Senators back Obama's call for cybersecurity reform

ADVERTISEMENT
"As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I fully support efforts to protect our national security by passing cyber security legislation. I have been working for years to address our country's vulnerability to cyber-attacks and believe now is the time for Congress to act," said Senate Commerce Chairman Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.) in a statement Wednesday.

Momentum has been building for cybersecurity legislation in recent years, with Senate leadership appeared to coalesce around a proposal that would task the Department of Homeland Security with regulating private-sector networks deemed critical to the nation's physical and economic security.

The White House proposal would likely cover telecom firms, Internet service providers and a host of other sectors. DHS would work with the private sector to determine best practices for security, and firms would be forced to comply or face the threat of their security audits being published.

But the House has embraced a much more limited definition of critical infrastructure that would restrict new cybersecurity regulations to industries like nuclear power and water treatment plants that are already heavily regulated. The House GOP also favors incentives and tax breaks over any penalties.

The House has recently begun moving on several similar cybersecurity proposals of its own that would establish mechanisms and incentives for greater information sharing between the government and private sector about cyber threats and attacks.

While House Democrats and the Senate would like to see DHS have more authority to enforce its security standards, there have been indications they would at least partially accept whatever proposal the House passes in hopes of making some progress on cybersecurity legislation this year.