SPONSORED:

Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment

Senate shoots down Paul's contested cyber amendment
© Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday struck down Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 FeinsteinWhitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel 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 FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory MORE (Minn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee MORE (Vt.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far 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 HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president as well.