Software industry urges action on Senate cyber bill

Software industry urges action on Senate cyber bill
© Getty Images

A major tech industry group is pressing Senate leaders to take up stalled cybersecurity legislation before Congress leaves town for the August recess.

The bill in question, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), is intended to boost the exchange of threat data between the public and private sectors.


Passing CISA “will be an important step in bolstering our nation’s cybersecurity capabilities,” said the letter from The BSA | The Software Alliance, which represents major software developers like Adobe, Apple, IBM and Microsoft.

Senate Republican leaders have vowed to get the bill on the floor before the recess.

“We believe it is now more important than ever to enact legislation to break down the legal barriers that currently discourage cyber threat information sharing between and among the public and private sectors,” said the letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellObama: Filibuster makes it 'almost impossible' to govern Ethics panel calls on House, Senate leaders to act on anti-sexual harassment bill Don’t fret the lame duck MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Nevada New Members 2019 Meet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time MORE (D-Nev.).

Private companies say they withhold from sharing hacking data from the government for fear of shareholder lawsuits and exposing privileged information. CISA would give firms legal liability protections to encourage them to hand more of this data over to the government.

“Increased awareness will enhance the ability of businesses, consumers and critical infrastructure to better defend themselves against attacks and intrusions,” the group said.

The House passed its two companion pieces of legislation in April, putting all eyes on the Senate to act. But CISA quickly got tied up in the upper chamber’s battle over scaling back the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance powers.

While industry groups almost unanimously support the cyber bill, privacy groups are vigorously opposed, arguing the data exchange will just shuttle more private information to the NSA.

Arguments over nuclear negotiations with Iran and free trade deal have also chewed up floor time.

The bill does enjoy bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and the White House has indicated it would be open to supporting the efforts with some notable, but relatively minor tweaks.

A privacy-minded wing of the Senate, led by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee Wyden2020 Democrats challenge Trump's use of troops at Mexico border Dems slam Trump for siding with Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi killing Dem senator demands public intelligence assessment on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Ore.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPrivacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill MORE (D-Vt.) are building a coalition to try and stop the measure.

BSA said it believes CISA accomplishes its goals without “compromising the privacy of an individual’s information.”