Heritage urges Senate to reject cybersecurity bill

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"Congress should not rush to pass legislation without fully considering the consequences of the bill to ensure that the legislation does not do more harm than good," Heritage wrote. "The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, commonly referred to as Lieberman-Collins, falls into the 'more harm than good' category."

The Cybersecurity Act could come up for a vote this week.

Lieberman and other co-sponsors, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), introduced a revised version of their bill last week. 

The old version would have required critical infrastructure, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines, to meet certain cybersecurity standards. But in a bid to win Republican votes, Lieberman scaled back the regulatory requirements.

The new version of the bill pushes incentives for, but does not force, critical infrastructure to meet security standards.

"This legislation is urgently needed to address the clear, present, and growing danger of cyberattacks against our most critical systems," Lieberman said in a statement when he introduced the compromise bill.

He admitted the old version of the legislation was stronger, but expressed hope that the incentives would be enough to enhance cybersecurity.

"In other words, we are going to try carrots instead of sticks as we begin to improve our cyber defenses," he said.

But that compromise wasn't enough to appease Heritage.

The group said the incentive system is "marginally better" than mandates, but claimed that individual agencies could still make binding regulations.

The conservative group argued that the government moves too slowly to keep up with developments in cyberattacks, and it shouldn't be entrusted with developing even voluntary security standards.

"The federal government does not have a good track record of properly regulating industries without causing harm," Heritage wrote. "They are ill-equipped to develop effective cybersecurity regulations, and would instead create a cumbersome regulatory process that would pose an undue burden to the industry."

The Cybersecurity Act has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House, but it is unclear whether it will attract enough GOP support to clear the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.