OVERNIGHT TECH: Congress returns as cybersecurity executive order is in the works

That section was the biggest sticking point with lawmakers, and ultimately kept Lieberman and his bill sponsors from securing enough GOP votes for their measure to move forward. With the White House tackling the divisive issue, some are questioning whether lawmakers will be able to work out an agreement on passing an information-sharing bill out of this Congress.

{mosads}The executive order on cybersecurity “could allow us to focus on things we agree on,” a Senate aide said.

Both the Lieberman bill and the GOP-backed Secure IT Act from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) included sections that aimed to improve the sharing of information about cyber threats between government agencies and companies so they can thwart future cyber attacks. They also included sections on boosting cybersecurity R&D and reforming the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

The House passed its own information-sharing bill this spring from the House Intelligence Committee, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which was panned by privacy and civil-liberties groups. Along with CISPA, it also cleared a set of bills on R&D and FISMA reform.

But one privacy advocate believes lawmakers will face challenges when it comes to bridging the differences between the various information sharing bills.

“While [lawmakers] agree on the idea or principle of information sharing, their bills could not be farther apart,” said Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“I think between the White House making privacy a cornerstone of its CISPA threat and [Sens.] Lieberman, Collins and Feinstein embracing such substantial privacy reform [to their cybersecurity bill], it makes it incredibly hard to try to come together and bridge the differences between” the three pieces of legislation, she said.

Another obstacle is time: Congress is only in session for a limited number of days this month before it breaks for the elections.

Already, lawmakers’ views on the executive order are mixed. Lieberman and fellow bill co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are both hoping that Congress can coalesce around a solution to get a bill done this year. Meanwhile, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who also co-sponsored the Lieberman bill, wrote the president over recess to urge the White House to use its executive authority to take action.

Lieberman said he supports the White House issuing an executive order absent congressional action, but noted that it would not accomplish everything that Congress could do.

A revised version of the cybersecurity executive order is expected to be circulated to relevant agencies this week.

White House issues surveillance on FISA reauthorization: The White House voiced its support for the reauthorization of a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allows the intelligence community to collect foreign intelligence on terrorists or threats based abroad by conducting surveillance on Americans’ international email and phone calls. “Title VII of FISA allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital foreign intelligence information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas, while providing protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans,” the SAP reads. “Intelligence collection under Title VII has produced and continues to produce significant information that is vital to defend the nation against international terrorism and other threats. “

MPAA circulates memo to political candidates:
The Motion Picture Association of America circulated a memo to candidates in the upcoming November election that describes the impact the American film and TV industry has on the U.S. economy. The film lobby also noted that “free expression and free speech are cornerstones of the entertainment industry” in the memo. It’s a statement that heads off criticism from Internet advocates that argued that the MPAA-backed Stop Online Piracy Act threatened freedom of speech on the Web. But the MPAA also stressed that copyright protection is key to preserving the freedom to innovate online. “We can protect creative works while ensuring that the Internet works for everyone,” the memo reads. 


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Tags Dianne Feinstein Jay Rockefeller John McCain Susan Collins

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