Last month, with the hopes of encouraging Congress to pass the cybersecurity law, President Obama penned an op-ed ed piece for the Wall Street Journal that began with a realistic scenario of what could happen if private sector companies were cyber attacked.
“Across the country trains had derailed, including one carrying industrial chemicals that exploded into a toxic cloud. Water treatment plants in several states had shut down, contaminating drinking water and causing Americans to fall ill,” Obama wrote.
The piece was pretty much ignored. Last week, the Senate was unable to come to an agreement to pass the law, earning only 52 of the 60 votes needed to pass it and shelving it until after their August recess. Being that it’s an election year, the bill’s outlook looks bleak. It's sponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and would allow the government and private companies to share information like user data and communications if it pertained to national cybersecurity.
It’s important to point out that this kind of information is already collected by companies, just not shared with the government. The bill originally contained minimum security requirement measures for infrastructure providers like water treatment facilities and electricity plants, based on information collected on their high susceptibility to cyber attacks. The Senate shot this down, claiming too much involvement in private company issues, and made the precautions optional in July.
Opponents of the bill, like the advocacy group Fight For the Future, praised last week’s shelving of the bill because of privacy concerns for everyday citizens. However, staff from Senator Lieberman’s office told the digital political new organization, Talking Points Memo that, “Neither the Cybersecurity Act, nor its failure to gain cloture would have any affect on ordinary Web users,” adding that the focus of the bill is the critical infrastructure networks that supply the nation with basic life services.
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