Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment

Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment
© Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday struck down Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRepublicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report Ex-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer GOP leaders: No talk of inviting Russia delegation to Capitol MORE's controversial amendment to a major cybersecurity item that the bill's backers said could have killed the whole measure.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) would shield companies from legal liability when sharing cyber-threat data with the government, in an effort to boost the public-private exchange of information on hackers.

The amendment from the Kentucky Republican, who is running for president, would have stripped this liability immunity from any company found breaking a user or privacy agreement with its customers. The offering received 32 votes, short of the simple majority needed to pass.

CISA has split traditional industries like finance and retail, which argue they need the legal assurance, and privacy groups, which say CISA will give private companies too much leeway to share Americans’ personal data with the government.

Paul, who has made a name for himself and his 2016 campaign by siding with privacy and civil liberties groups on issues such as government surveillance, has taken a strong stance against CISA. On his campaign website, he said the bill “would transform websites into government spies.”

On Thursday, he took the floor to argue that his amendment would implement much-needed privacy protections into CISA.

“This bill says that if a company violates [the privacy agreement] in sharing your information, that there will be legal immunity for that company,” Paul said. “I think that weakens privacy.”

“It makes your privacy agreement not really worth the paper it’s written on,” he added.

In the hours leading up to the vote on Paul’s proposal, industry groups banded together to strongly oppose the Kentucky Republican’s efforts.

The amendment, the coalition said in a letter to all senators, would “undermine” CISA’s goals “by jeopardizing a firm's liability protections for even an inadvertent violation of a terms of service or privacy agreement.”

As a result, the change “will only discourage firms from participating in the voluntary sharing process, weakening our collective ability to defend against cyber attacks,” the letter added.

Dozens of groups representing banks, insurers, hospitals, telecom firms and wireless and broadband companies all signed on.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressives fume as Dems meet with Brett Kavanaugh GOP lawmaker calls on FBI to provide more info on former Feinstein staffer It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy MORE (D-Calif.), one of CISA’s co-sponsors, reiterated these fears on the floor, warning her colleagues the bill could go down if Paul’s amendment was adopted.

“This amendment would actually fatally disturb what’s in the bill, which is clear and concise,” she said. “We have been told, for the industries that support this bill, that this amendment is a bill-killer.”

Paul was joined by other privacy-minded senators on both sides of the aisle who have expressed reservations about CISA.

Democratic Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Tina Smith defeats former Bush ethics lawyer in Minnesota Dem primary The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms MORE (Minn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms Hillicon Valley: 'QAnon' conspiracy theory jumps to primetime | Senate Intel broadens look into social media manipulation | Senate rejects push for more election security funds | Reddit reveals hack Senate clears 4B ‘minibus’ spending measure MORE (Vt.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGroup files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots Treasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Rubio slams Google over plans to unveil censored Chinese search engine MORE (Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ellison wins Minnesota AG primary amid late domestic violence allegations Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE (I-Vt.), who is also running for president, all sided with Paul.

Several of Paul's colleagues also voted with him, including Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerBattle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest Trump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks Collins and Murkowski face recess pressure cooker on Supreme Court MORE (R-Nev.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEx-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer Facebook cracks down on 3D guns Exclusive: Bannon blasts 'con artist' Kochs, 'lame duck' Ryan, 'diminished' Kelly MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMellman: Two worlds — Online and off GOP pollster: Trump dominates political rivals vying for media attention Cruz challenger O'Rourke launching .27M TV ad buy focusing on 'positive' message MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president as well.