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New Cybersecurity Bill May Succeed

In a rare bipartisan effort, Senators Reid (D-NV), Lieberman (I-CT), and Collins (R-ME), are planning to move a new strategic vision for cybersecurity and the Federal government. Upon introduction, the bill is expected to bypass various committees and move directly to the Senate floor for a vote. Congress watchers believe that the legislation has a probable chance for success. The legislative proposal is expected to focus principally on respective Federal authorities over cybersecurity. According to CQ Daily, the latest draft language would:

  • Direct the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a systemic assessment of the risk to each critical infrastructure sector;
  • Instruct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop protection guidelines;
  • Direct Homeland Security to develop performance standards for the most vital infrastructure;
  • Require covered companies to select a method for meeting those standards;
  • Establish procedures for third-party audits of how the standards are being met; and
  • Provide liability protection for companies that suffer an attack while complying with security standards.

Additional provisions and amendments are expected as part of the Senate Floor debate. Potential topics could include criminal penalties for cybercrimes, cyberthreat information sharing, and Federal emergency powers in the event of a cyber crisis. In the House, several cyber security bills have been introduced and referred to various committees but none, to date, are as comprehensive as the anticipated Senate proposal.