Senate Republicans revamp cybersecurity bill

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The new version of the legislation, S. 3342, aims to address the concerns of privacy advocates, who had warned that the old bill would give spy agencies access to Americans' private online information.

The Republican senators said their new bill tightens the definition of "cyber threat information" and clarifies that the government cannot use or retain the information for reasons other those specified in the bill. They also said it creates new oversight authorities to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Hutchison said the lawmakers worked closely with interest groups to draft the new version of the bill, and they believe the new Secure IT is a "consensus bill that will significantly advance the security of our government and private sector networks."

“Our bill focuses on giving companies and the government the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves from cyber threats, and creates new important requirements for government contractors to notify their agencies of significant cyber-attacks to their systems,” she said in a statement.

Importantly, the bill still does not give the government any power to set mandatory security standards for critical infrastructure systems.

The White House and Senate Democrats argue that standards for critical systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines, are a necessary part of any cybersecurity legislation. They argue that without mandatory standards, the country will be at risk for a devastating attack that could cost thousands of lives.

A separate bill offered by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine) would empower the Homeland Security Department to set cybersecurity standards. But Republicans argue security mandates would burden business and do little to improve cybersecurity.

"The key to successfully fighting this threat is not adding more bureaucrats or forcing industries to comply with government red-tape,”  McCain said in a statement. “Instead, we must leverage the ingenuity and innovation of the private sector in partnership with the most effective elements of the federal government to address this emerging threat.” 

In an email, Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Lieberman, said the senator is "encouraged that Republicans recognize the urgency of cybersecurity and looks forward to a lively floor debate."

"He is, however, disappointed that SECURE IT does not address the grave threat of cyber attack against critical infrastructure," she said.

The Secure IT Act is also co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (R-Alaska), Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE (R-Ind.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal MORE (R-N.C.).

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) has said he plans to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill to a vote next month.

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Energy: Watchdog probes Pruitt speech to mining group | EPA chief promises to let climate scientists present their work | Volkswagen manager gets 7 years for emissions cheating EPA head pledges to protect climate scientists MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are working on a compromise that would pressure, but not force, critical infrastructure systems to better protect their systems.

—Updated at 2:10 p.m.