Senators drafting bipartisan compromise on cybersecurity legislation

There are a number of cybersecurity bills floating around Capitol Hill, and now there may be another, this one aiming to bridge the gap between other proposed legislation, according to published reports.

Senators from both sides of the aisle are currently developing a compromise bill that could establish incentives for privately held critical infrastructure – such as energy companies and other utilities – but still sidesteps the creation of new mandates, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported.

Those incentives could include liability protections and government cybersecurity help – financial and technical – for companies that meet “baseline performance goals,” according to The Hill. Meeting standard requirements established by the bill would also afford companies protection from lawsuits.

The bipartisan group is led by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), joined in negotiations by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told Bloomberg.

Lieberman in February offered introduced a bipartisan and White House-backed cybersecurity bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes new Homeland Security Department authorities, new regulations to protect critical infrastructure and the establishment of a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.

Capitol Hill Republicans have challenged Lieberman’s bill as being heavy-handed and too great a burden on businesses, and have floated cybersecurity legislation of their own that omit requirements for private industry.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in March introduced the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information and Technology (SECURE IT) Act; later that month Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) unveiled a House version with the same name and essentially the same provisions.

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Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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