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 McConnellBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Biden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' 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 WydenLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats NFL accused of 'systemic racism' in handling Black ex-players' brain injuries Infrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing MORE (D-Ore.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGaetz compares allegations against him to earmarks: 'Everybody knows that that's the corruption' House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Biden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat 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.”