OVERNIGHT TECH: Senators make final push for cybersecurity bill

Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The Hill that the lawmakers made "substantial changes," and that they undertook a "Herculean effort to build privacy protections" into the bill.

The measure requires that any information companies share with the government must go to civilian, not military, agencies. The bill also dictates that the information can only be used for cybersecurity purposes.

Richardson said the bill is "really separate" from the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed the House in April.


Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior policy counsel at The Constitution Project, applauded the changes, saying they "go a long way toward alleviating our concerns."

The senators also overhauled the critical infrastructure provisions of the bill. Lieberman, along with co-sponsors Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCoronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Maine), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE (D-Calif.) and Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.), had argued that critical systems such as electrical grids and gas pipelines should be required to meet minimum cybersecurity standards.

But Republicans balked at the requirements, worrying that they would impose unnecessary burdens on businesses.

The bill establishes a multi-agency National Cybersecurity Council to incentivize, but not require, companies to meet cybersecurity standards.

"In other words, we are going to try carrots instead of sticks as we begin to improve our cyber defenses," Lieberman said. But he said if the voluntary measures don't work, "a future Congress will undoubtedly come back and adopt a more coercive system."

It's unclear yet whether the changes to the critical infrastructure provisions will be enough to win over the bill's skeptics.

One Republican aide told The Hill: "We view this move as more of a political exercise that anything else, and the conversations between the offices continue."

Some GOP senators, including Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (N.H.), also expressed frustration that Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill MORE (D-Nev.) was moving cybersecurity before the defense authorization bill.


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