Ongoing discord in U.S. Senate over Cybersecurity bill

The White House has sought more comprehensive legislation that would also set minimum security standards for critical companies, such as utilities, and provide better protection for private information that may be turned over to the government.

Ongoing discord in U.S. Senate over Cybersecurity bill

World Bulletin/News Desk

As the White House and congressional lawmakers resume talks on legislation to improve U.S. defenses against cyber-attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday signaled that disagreements remain over a House cybersecurity bill, which she called insufficient.

In 2012, identical legislation passed the House of Representatives but died in Democrat-controlled Senate after President Barack Obama threatened to veto it, saying the bill did not have adequate safeguards for privacy and confidentiality, among other things.

Obama signed an executive order in February designed to make it easier for the government to warn private companies of cyberthreats and to set up a system of voluntary cybersecurity standards - a contentious subject for the industry that helped kill broader Democratic legislation last year.

House intelligence committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan reintroduced his bill last month. He recently said his team and the White House were "not that far apart" in the renewed talks about the bill, which focuses on better sharing of information among companies and the government.

The White House has sought a more comprehensive piece of legislation that would also set minimum security standards for critical companies, such as utilities, and provide better protection for private information that may be turned over to the government.

Officials from the Obama administration and Congress have called for stronger cyber security, accusing China and Russia of hacking U.S. computer networks for economic gain, espionage and other motives.

U.S. standing to complain about other nations' cyber attacks has been undermined, however, by disclosures that Washington, along with Israel, launched sophisticated offensive cyber operations of its own against Iran to try to slow that nation's suspected quest for a nuclear weapon.

U.S. officials have not publicly acknowledged that effort and almost never speak of U.S. offensive capabilities in public.

On Thursday, at a hearing on Obama's recently signed cybersecurity executive order, Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia asked Napolitano whether a bill focusing on information sharing without addressing security standards would be sufficient.

"No," Napolitano answered, further adding: "In terms of the House bill, even in the information sharing area, I think there were some deficiencies in it."

She reiterated some of the concerns the White House voiced about the House bill last year, including the information monitoring power being given to the National Security Agency, which is part of the Defense Department.

Last Mod: 08 Mart 2013, 09:38
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