Stop playing politics with cybersecurity

The no-regulation stance of Senate Republicans opposing the new cybersecurity bill lessens the chance of getting meaningful legislation passed.

Senators on both sides of the aisle have been quick to emphasize how important cybersecurity is to the nation’s security and its increasingly online economy.

“All of us recognize the importance of cybersecurity in the digital world,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said during a recent hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Supporters of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 introduced by committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) all agreed that it is high time to get our cyber house in order before serious damage is done. “Time is not on our side,” Lieberman said.


Related coverage:

Bipartisan cyber bill now the center of partisan turf war


But when it comes to going beyond lip service, cooperation falls apart. A group of seven high-ranking Republican senators, miffed at their committees being bypassed by Lieberman and alarmed at the specter of federal regulation, are opposing the bill. McCain said the senators were forced to this position.

“Because of provisions like these and the threat of a hurried process, myself, and senators Hutchison, Chambliss, Murkowski, Grassley and others are left with no choice but to introduce an alternative cybersecurity bill in the coming days,” he said.

But they do have a choice. They could choose to cooperate in the legislative process and help to craft a bill that can move through the Senate. The problem is that they object to any sort of federal regulation, preferring instead to leave private-sector owners of critical infrastructure to decide for themselves how, and whether, to secure their networks and systems.

This is the line of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressed during the hearing by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

“Businesses strive to stay a step ahead of cyber criminals and protect potentially sensitive consumer and business information by employing sound risk-management principles,” Ridge said. “Industry has been taking robust and proactive steps for many years to protect and make their information networks more resilient.”

But, as Stewart Baker, partner at Steptoe & Johnson and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, told the committee, this argument makes no sense. “They’re the guys who got us into this fix.” If the system owners and operators were doing an adequate job of protecting themselves, we wouldn’t be arguing about cybersecurity today.

McCain complained that the Lieberman bill would create a “regulatory leviathan,” and that the “bureaucrats” at the Homeland Security Department would become “super regulators,” stifling innovation and killing jobs.

There is no reason to believe this. The bill gives very little regulatory authority to DHS, which would designate critical infrastructure and would establish minimal risk-based requirements for security. Existing regulatory relationships would not be changed and owners of covered infrastructure would be allowed to self-certify that they meet minimum requirements. Hardly a job-killer.

Regulation is not bad. Bad regulation is bad, good regulation is good, and some regulation of our critical infrastructure is needed to ensure they are adequately secured.

Absent of regulation, the private sector is concerned solely with making a profit. That is their job. Public welfare and personal wellbeing are not their business. But profit and loss are not adequate measures for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure. The public welfare is the government’s job, and it is not too much to expect that there be minimum requirements for security that system owners would have to abide by, like it or not.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 probably isn’t perfect. But rather than digging in your heels against every type of standard or regulation that is proposed, the proper response would be to participate in the legislative process and create a more perfect bill.

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.