Senators propose reform, not regulation, for better cybersecurity

The federal government needs to beef up its web defenses rather than focus on “heavy-handed” expensive regulation to deal with the onslaught of cyber attacks on the nation’s critical infrastructure, according to some Republican lawmakers.

In Jan. 29 op-ed for Politico, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)  Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) propose that the government collaborate with industry to find the “right way” to address cybersecurity. The lawmakers were responding to a yet-to-be released cybersecurity bill.

The appropriate method, the senators suggest in the op-ed, is to reform the Federal Information Security Management Act with a real-time monitoring system. They also recommended  partnering with research institutions such as the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create cutting-edge cyber defenses to fend off virtual attacks, and bolstering existing oversight frameworks.

The Republican senators opposed providing additional agencies more regulation authority.

Other lawmakers disagree with the GOP perspective. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), via a spokesman quoted in an article in The Hill, argued that the federal government has the duty to protect its own information, even when the information is processed or stored by a contractor on behalf of an agency.

If the contractor's handling of the data "isn't as secure as it should be, the government needs to have the authority to step in and improve security," the spokesman said. "Intervention authority is routinely written into contracts. The senators and the administration think it is important enough to be written in statute. We have been receptive to the concerns raised and made changes and additions to the bill based on those concerns."

 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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