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Senate Republicans revamp cybersecurity bill

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The new version of the legislation, S. 3342, aims to address the concerns of privacy advocates, who had warned that the old bill would give spy agencies access to Americans' private online information.

The Republican senators said their new bill tightens the definition of "cyber threat information" and clarifies that the government cannot use or retain the information for reasons other those specified in the bill. They also said it creates new oversight authorities to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Hutchison said the lawmakers worked closely with interest groups to draft the new version of the bill, and they believe the new Secure IT is a "consensus bill that will significantly advance the security of our government and private sector networks."

“Our bill focuses on giving companies and the government the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves from cyber threats, and creates new important requirements for government contractors to notify their agencies of significant cyber-attacks to their systems,” she said in a statement.

Importantly, the bill still does not give the government any power to set mandatory security standards for critical infrastructure systems.

The White House and Senate Democrats argue that standards for critical systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines, are a necessary part of any cybersecurity legislation. They argue that without mandatory standards, the country will be at risk for a devastating attack that could cost thousands of lives.

A separate bill offered by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Collins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind' Republicans advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote MORE (R-Maine) would empower the Homeland Security Department to set cybersecurity standards. But Republicans argue security mandates would burden business and do little to improve cybersecurity.

"The key to successfully fighting this threat is not adding more bureaucrats or forcing industries to comply with government red-tape,”  McCain said in a statement. “Instead, we must leverage the ingenuity and innovation of the private sector in partnership with the most effective elements of the federal government to address this emerging threat.” 

In an email, Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Lieberman, said the senator is "encouraged that Republicans recognize the urgency of cybersecurity and looks forward to a lively floor debate."

"He is, however, disappointed that SECURE IT does not address the grave threat of cyber attack against critical infrastructure," she said.

The Secure IT Act is also co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes GOP to Trump: Focus on policy MORE (R-Iowa), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Republicans advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (R-Alaska), Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsAvoiding the 1876 scenario in November Democrat asks intelligence director if Trump's personal debt is security problem FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden MORE (R-Ind.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate panels to interview former Hunter Biden business associate Friday Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Biden: Johnson should be 'ashamed' for suggesting family profited from their name MORE (R-Wis.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-N.C.).

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Nev.) has said he plans to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill to a vote next month.

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats, gun control groups attack NRA for efforts to reshape judiciary Hillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems Trump signs legislation making hacking voting systems a federal crime MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are working on a compromise that would pressure, but not force, critical infrastructure systems to better protect their systems.

—Updated at 2:10 p.m.