Internet providers warn against cybersecurity regulation

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The Senate is set to vote on a cybersecurity bill, backed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump GOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying MORE (R-Maine), that would give the Homeland Security Department the power to require private computer networks deemed critical to national security to meet certain security standards.

"Such proposals, while undoubtedly well-intentioned, are the antithesis of innovation — such requirements could have an unintended stifling effect on making real cybersecurity improvements," said Edward Amoroso, AT&T's chief security officer.

He argued that bureaucratic regulations are too slow to adapt to evolving cyberthreats. 

"An overly prescriptive approach can only serve to stifle Internet innovation and the technology leadership of the United States in the global information infrastructure," he said. "Quite simply, innovation is inconsistent with standardization."

Jason Livingood, Comcast's vice president of Internet systems engineering, said his company "has strong incentives — without the need for a government mandate — to explore and implement successfully a wide range of cybersecurity measures."

Supporters of the Lieberman-Collins bill say new regulatory powers are necessary to ensure that critical systems are not vulnerable to a cyberattack. 

The White House supports the Lieberman-Collins bill, and an administration spokeswoman warned Congress last week not to resort to "half measures" to address cybersecurity.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the telecom subpanel, appointed three Democrats and three Republicans to a working group to study potential cybersecurity legislation earlier this month.