Congress

Senate tees up vote on cyber bill

Shutterstock image:  Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

The Senate on Oct. 22 moved a controversial information-sharing cybersecurity bill forward on a procedural vote, setting the stage for a final vote on the measure as early as next week.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act is the latest in a long line of legislative efforts to encourage private firms to share more cyber threat data amongst themselves and with the government. CISA encourages this by giving firms certain protections from antitrust and consumer privacy liabilities when they report threat information.

The Senate voted 83-14 to move the bill ahead. A 60-vote majority was required to advance CISA. A set of seven amendments is scheduled for a vote on Oct. 27. That will be followed by a cloture vote and a final vote on the underlying bill.

Privacy groups have decried the bill as an expansion of government surveillance. Apple and a trade group representing Amazon, Google and Facebook have come out against the legislation.

Privacy hawk Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was among the 14 lawmakers who voted against cloture. Of the presidential candidates, Sens. Ron Paul (R-Ky.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also voted against cloture, while Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) did not vote.

The bill is voluntary, "so it's hard for me to understand why we have companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and others saying they can't support the bill at this time," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in an Oct. 21 statement from the Senate floor. "You have no reason, because you don't have to do anything, but there are companies by the hundreds if not thousands that want to participate in this."

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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