Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment

Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment
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The Senate on Thursday struck down Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Five things to watch for in deteriorating US-Saudi relations MORE's controversial amendment to a major cybersecurity item that the bill's backers said could have killed the whole measure.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) would shield companies from legal liability when sharing cyber-threat data with the government, in an effort to boost the public-private exchange of information on hackers.


The amendment from the Kentucky Republican, who is running for president, would have stripped this liability immunity from any company found breaking a user or privacy agreement with its customers. The offering received 32 votes, short of the simple majority needed to pass.

CISA has split traditional industries like finance and retail, which argue they need the legal assurance, and privacy groups, which say CISA will give private companies too much leeway to share Americans’ personal data with the government.

Paul, who has made a name for himself and his 2016 campaign by siding with privacy and civil liberties groups on issues such as government surveillance, has taken a strong stance against CISA. On his campaign website, he said the bill “would transform websites into government spies.”

On Thursday, he took the floor to argue that his amendment would implement much-needed privacy protections into CISA.

“This bill says that if a company violates [the privacy agreement] in sharing your information, that there will be legal immunity for that company,” Paul said. “I think that weakens privacy.”

“It makes your privacy agreement not really worth the paper it’s written on,” he added.

In the hours leading up to the vote on Paul’s proposal, industry groups banded together to strongly oppose the Kentucky Republican’s efforts.

The amendment, the coalition said in a letter to all senators, would “undermine” CISA’s goals “by jeopardizing a firm's liability protections for even an inadvertent violation of a terms of service or privacy agreement.”

As a result, the change “will only discourage firms from participating in the voluntary sharing process, weakening our collective ability to defend against cyber attacks,” the letter added.

Dozens of groups representing banks, insurers, hospitals, telecom firms and wireless and broadband companies all signed on.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTop Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace: I told Jeb Bush 'he should have punched' Trump 'in the face' Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight MORE (D-Calif.), one of CISA’s co-sponsors, reiterated these fears on the floor, warning her colleagues the bill could go down if Paul’s amendment was adopted.

“This amendment would actually fatally disturb what’s in the bill, which is clear and concise,” she said. “We have been told, for the industries that support this bill, that this amendment is a bill-killer.”

Paul was joined by other privacy-minded senators on both sides of the aisle who have expressed reservations about CISA.

Democratic Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Prosecutor drops some charges against Harvey Weinstein Poll: Dems maintain double-digit leads in Minnesota Senate races MORE (Minn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance Justice Kavanaugh will be impartial, not political like his opponents MORE (Vt.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Facebook deletes accounts for political 'spam' | Leaked research shows Google's struggles with online free speech | Trump's praise for North Korea complicates cyber deterrence | Senators want Google memo on privacy bug On The Money: Jobless rate hits 49-year low | Officials face legal obstacles to pursuing tax charges against Trump | Tax story prompts calls to revise estate rules MORE (Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Senators concerned as Trump official disputes UN climate change warning Jake Tapper hits Trump over 'Medicare for all' op-ed: ‘It’s only an hourlong show, we can’t get into every lie’ MORE (I-Vt.), who is also running for president, all sided with Paul.

Several of Paul's colleagues also voted with him, including Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump adds campaign stops for Senate candidates in Montana, Arizona, Nevada Democrats hold fading odds of winning Senate this November Cornyn: 'All the money in the world' won't help O'Rourke win Texas MORE (R-Nev.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Democrats hold fading odds of winning Senate this November Donald Trump Jr. emerges as GOP fundraising force MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president as well.