Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) on Monday prodded Congress to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, warning that "time is running out."
Speaking at the Military Academy at West Point, Langevin acknowledged that there is still "a gulf in opinions" about the government's role in protecting private computer networks — a divide that has become "an increasingly daunting barrier" to passing comprehensive reforms.
But he urged lawmakers to redouble their efforts.
"The consequences of inaction are perilously high," Langevin said.
Langevin voted for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), that passed the House in April. The measure would remove legal barriers that prevent companies from sharing information about cyberattacks with each other and with the government.
Langevin said CISPA is an "important step," though he said it doesn't do enough to protect critical infrastructure, such as power grids and financial institutions, from attacks.
The Rhode Island Democrat said the federal government should have the authority to require critical infrastructure to meet minimum cybersecurity standards. But House Republican leaders oppose cybersecurity mandates, saying they would impose unnecessary burdens on businesses.
Langevin said the controversy over mandates is "one of the primary stumbling blocks" for cybersecurity legislation.
"It has precluded passage of a comprehensive cybersecurity package, and has in fact prevented the consideration of any significant cybersecurity legislation in the Senate," Langevin said.
The White House has endorsed a Senate cybersecurity bill, authored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Maine), that includes cybersecurity mandates.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo Build Back Better, we need a tax system where everyone pays their fair share Democrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda MORE (D-Nev.) has said he plans to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill to a vote, but opposition from many Senate Republicans makes its fate unclear.
Privacy advocates have criticized both the House and Senate cybersecurity bills, warning they would encourage companies to hand their customers' private information over to military spy agencies.