Congress

Burr stumps for cyber bill

Richard Burr official photo, 114th Congress

Sen. Richard Burr promoted his cybersecurity legislation in the Republicans' weekly address.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is trying to drum up public support for his cybersecurity legislation, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015. He used the Republicans' weekly speech on April 4, in the midst of a two-week break in the congressional session, to pitch his bill as a solution to the ongoing plague of large-scale cyberattacks that is compromising the personally identifiable information of millions of Americans.

"Cyberattackers...are cracking into the vaults of our companies and our government," Burr said in his speech. "They're stealing your personal information as well as the intellectual property that makes our economy the most creative and vibrant in the world."

CISA passed out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which Burr chairs, by a vote of 14-1 in March. Now the bill goes to the full Senate, where it is expected to enjoy wide support. It offers private companies that voluntarily share cyberthreat information with the government some protection against antitrust rules and being sued by their customers for the disclosures. Under the legislation, the Department of Homeland Security would set up a portal by which companies could transmit threat indicators to government in real time.

Critics -- including the intelligence committee's lone dissenter, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- say the bill's privacy protections are weak and will enable the sharing of too much personally identifiable information. They are also concerned that the bill grants too much authority to the government to use information collected for the purposes of network defense to prosecute unrelated criminal offenses.

"This excessively broad collection may not be the intent of this bill, but the language is clearly drafted broadly enough to permit it," Wyden said in a statement. He wants the legislation adjusted to narrow the definition of a cybersecurity threat.

There appears to be a bipartisan path for a cybersecurity bill to get through Congress this year. Two bills are moving through the House that provide liability protections for companies that share information with government: one from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that tracks closely with the Senate bill and a second in the Homeland Security Committee that is still in draft form.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.