It seems that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are in agreement when it comes to the nation's need for cybersecurity legislation. Exactly how a bill should look, as well as its means for governing cyberspace, however, is where the party lines begin to shine through.
The issue of data security has been sticky in Washington, D.C., for some time now. In the fall, President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to get moving with legislation, and he reiterated that stance during his State of the Union address last month.
Several senators responded this week by introducing the the aptly named Cybersecurity Act. Bipartisan support includes West Virginia Democrat John Rockefeller, Connecticut Independent Joseph Lieberman, Maine Republican Susan Collins and California Democrat Diane Feinstein.
The process of introducing and passing a bill seemed to be moving along – swiftly by Congress' standards, at that – until recently. Criticism by legislators on the right, as well as some data security experts, has stalled the 207-page bill in the Senate. Some feel it contains too many loopholes, while others contend it doesn't go far enough to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, according to the Washington Post.
"Rather than rush into a massive bill that could have unintended consequences … the American people would be better served by holding hearings and a markup so that members of both parties can make informed decisions about cybersecurity legislation," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
As a result, Arizona Republican John McCain was joined by six fellow members of the GOP in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to delay floor debate for the proposed bill. The aim is to give committees with jurisdiction over the matter more time to hold hearings and possibly come up with an alternative plan.
McCain's issue with the legislation is that it would give un-elected officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the ability regulate private businesses. That would "stymie job creation, blur the definition of private property rights and divert resources from actual cybersecurity to compliance with government mandates," he said.
Congress' work to better regulate the online space has gained much attention recently, both good and bad. Earlier this year, fierce debate raged over the proposed Stop Online Pirating Act and its Senate counterpart, the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro