Monday, August 6, 2012
Cyber Security Bill fails to pass U.S. Senate
The U.S. Senate failed to garner the sixty votes needed to end debate on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and move it forward for a final vote. The vote was 52 in favor and 46 against. Senate is scheduled to take a month long break in August and will convene again only in September.
The Obama administration claims the Act is critically important in ensuring national security and protection of the electrical grid, water supply, and other parts of crucial infrastructure from cyber attacks as well as espionage.]
Obama along with top security officials have repeatedly warned that the U.S. is vulnerable to cyber attacks and both have urged speedy passage of the act. The bill has been amended to meet some Republican concerns but they remain opposed to the bill along with the U.S Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber claims that the bill would lead to mandatory government regulations that would impose costs on private industry with little benefit in the way of increased security. The Republican position echoes those complaints. However, the Republicans further irritated Democrats by trying to tack on irrelevant amendments such as repeal of Obamacare!
Democratic Senator Al Franken and several others were concerned that privacy protections be added to the bill. As it is now the bill allows both Internet providers and other Web businesses to spy on their customers. They can also share information from the spying with the government. No warrant is required for this spying. The bill would also not allow customers to sue for damages caused by this spying. As usual government intrusion into people's lives is justified as necessary for national security.
Certainly cyber intrusions are increasing. According to Senators Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman who are co-sponsors of the act cyber incursions in critical industries rose from 50 in 2010 to 200 in 2011. While protection may be needed against cyber attacks protection needs to be added as well for attacks on people's privacy. For more see this article.