Future of cybersecurity lost in legislative limbo

More than 40 bills, resolutions and amendments dealing with cybersecurity are pending in the House and Senate. Does anyone in Congress care?

At last count, there were more than 40 bills, resolutions and amendments dealing with cybersecurity pending in the House and Senate. They offer funding for cybersecurity research and development, deplore developments in China, establish new consumer protections, update government regulations, and create new executive oversight authority.

But none of these seems to be heading for passage anytime soon. And by this date in an election year, soon is the only time left. With the campaign season already under way and summer recesses coming up, the 111th Congress soon will be history, and everything will then need to start over.

During an administration that has declared cybersecurity a major national security issue and at a time when the term "cyber war" is cropping up in headlines and on talk shows, when the Internet is becoming synonymous with identity theft and phishing is being spelled with a “ph” as often as an “f,” why is this so?


Related stories

FISMA gets the tools to do the job

New cybersecurity coordinator says he has the president’s ear


Despite the rising profile of cybersecurity, it apparently still is not a sexy issue politically. Senators and representatives tread delicately through the minefields of health care, financial regulation and immigration because anything they say can and will be used against them in the coming election, and neutrality is not an option. But being on the wrong — or right — side of cyber defense is not likely to lose anyone many votes, so it is not a high priority.

Perhaps the more important question is: Does this matter?

Probably not. There are some important cybersecurity issues that should be addressed, and the most critical of them are being addressed through regulatory rather than legislative channels.

For instance, the Federal Information Security Management Act is in need of an update. But while Congress proposes, the White House disposes, with new standards for FISMA reporting that require agencies to shift from paper-based annual reports to real-time data feeds of system status. The new standards, issued through the Office of Management and Budget in April, are part of a much-needed move away from paper-based compliance to real-time visibility and automated security systems.

And the Executive Cyberspace Authorities Act of 2010 (H.R. 5247) introduced in May by Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), would establish a White House National Cyberspace Office for coordinating national cybersecurity policy. The director would have a seat on the National Security Council and would coordinate defense of government networks in case of an attack.

But President Barack Obama appointed a White House cybersecurity coordinator this year. Although he does not have the budget authority the NCO director would have, OMB does have this authority under FISMA. Langevin’s proposal might well have merit, but even though it took the president nearly a year to name a cybersecurity coordinator, the administrative track is proving more flexible and speedy than the legislative one.

There are some issues that could benefit from Congress’ attention, such as a national standard for data breach notification and protection of sensitive personal information. That is covered by a patchwork of state laws. But even in that case, holders of personal information can avoid confusion simply by adopting the highest standards practical and doing their best to avoid breaches.

Mark Twain said “no man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” I wouldn’t go that far. But there are good avenues for regulating cybersecurity without new legislation.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.