Obama pens op-ed in all-out push for cybersecurity bill

{mosads}”Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we’ve seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill,” he writes.

Legislation must make it easier for the private sector and the government to share data about cybersecurity threats, Obama writes.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), passed by the House in April, focuses on encouraging information-sharing.

But in his op-ed, Obama writes that “simply sharing more information is not enough.”

He argues that the government must also set basic cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure.

He notes that companies are already required to meet a variety of physical security requirements.

“Nuclear power plants must have fences and defenses to thwart a terrorist attack. Water treatment plants must test their water regularly for contaminants. Airplanes must have secure cockpit doors. We all understand the need for these kinds of physical security measures. It would be the height of irresponsibility to leave a digital backdoor wide open to our cyber adversaries,” Obama writes.

But Republicans have resisted setting mandatory cybersecurity requirements, worrying that new regulations would burden businesses and could even hamper security efforts.

Obama’s op-ed was posted online just hours after Lieberman and other co-sponsors introduced a revised version of their Cybersecurity Act.

After extensive negotiations with the bill’s skeptics, the senators overhauled its critical infrastructure provisions.

Instead of setting mandatory standards, the new bill establishes a multi-agency National Cybersecurity Council to incentivize, but not force, companies to meet cybersecurity standards.

The senators also revised their legislation to enhance its privacy and civil-liberty protections.

Obama, who issued a formal veto threat against CISPA, reiterates that he “will veto any bill that lacks strong privacy and civil-liberties protections.”

The Senate is expected to take up the Cybersecurity Act next week. Lieberman has said if the Senate does not approve the bill by the end of the month, the effort will likely die.

“For the sake of our national and economic security, I urge the Senate to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and Congress to send me comprehensive legislation so I can sign it into law,” Obama writes.

“It’s time to strengthen our defenses against this growing danger.”


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