White House to meet with industry groups on cyber order

Representatives from the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) are set to meet with White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the planned meeting. 

One of the chief topics expected to be discussed during Wednesday's huddle is the cybersecurity executive order that the White House has drafted over the last few months. White House and administration officials began meeting with House and Senate aides this month to discuss their plans for the possible order, but have largely kept the draft under wraps.

ITI has not seen a copy of the draft order yet, the source said. 

The influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also set to meet with the White House this month to discuss efforts to improve cybersecurity, according to a spokeswoman for the business lobby. 

The order would create a voluntary program in which companies operating key infrastructure would elect to meet a set of cybersecurity standards developed, in part, by the government. The White House started exploring an executive order after Senate Republicans blocked a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and other Democrats in August.

"Unfortunately, the current prospects for a comprehensive bill are limited, and the risk is too great for the administration not to act," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement earlier this month. "The president is determined to protect our nation against cyber threats."

Hayden added that the White House has started reaching out to industry groups and Congress to get feedback on a potential order. She could not be reached for comment on the ITI and U.S. Chamber meetings.

The order is based on a measure included in the Senate bill, called the Cybersecurity Act, that is focused on protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Winning the support of ITI, which counts Cisco and IBM as members, will be key for the White House as it faces pushback from GOP lawmakers for drafting the order. The White House faces a tougher challenge when it comes to earning support from the U.S. Chamber, which is expected to be critical of the order because of its similarities to the Senate bill. 

Representatives from the National Telecommunications and Cable Association, BSA | The Software Alliance and the Internet Association also participated in the meeting with ITI, someone in the room said after the meeting concluded.

While the White House did not provide any details about the potential cyber order, there was "a lively discussion on how we can help our nation's cybersecurity, especially critical infrastructure," the source said.

Republican lawmakers charge that only Congress can implement the security measures needed to head off rising cyberthreats, adding that the draft order would likely result in more burdensome regulations on businesses. During a talk at the U.S. Chamber earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said it was "irresponsible" for the White House to not consult with congressional Republicans on the draft order.

Despite the partisan squabbling on issue, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to make another push on cybersecurity legislation and will bring a bill to the floor in November. 

- This story was updated at 6:52 p.m. with new details on the meeting