Critics seek to stall U.S. Senate cybersecurity bill

WASHINGTON Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:33am IST

Related Topics



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican critics of a U.S. Senate cybersecurity bill want to slow down consideration of the measure, saying it could give government too much power over private-sector infrastructure companies.

A group of senators introduced a comprehensive bill this week that requires the secretary of homeland security to designate certain infrastructure like air traffic control as critical and compel steps to defend against hackers.

Senators John Rockefeller and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats; Susan Collins, a Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, an independent, are the primary sponsors of the bill.

They say it is needed to prevent a catastrophic attack on the nation's water supply, electric grid, financial networks and transportation infrastructure.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the bill would be brought quickly to the Senate floor because portions of it had been worked on for years.

This irritated Senator John McCain, who said on Thursday that he and other Republicans on committees that have jurisdiction over the bill thought that it was moving too fast.

The Arizona Republican, speaking at a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, also criticized the leading role that the Department of Homeland Security would take under the bill in pushing better cyber practices on sometimes reluctant industries.

McCain said that "unelected bureaucrats" at DHS would promulgate regulations that would stymie job creation and provide a distraction from actual cybersecurity.

He promised his own bill in coming weeks.

Senator Lieberman said he was disappointed by McCain's remarks. "We pleaded for involvement. A lot of people including yourself have not come to the table."

Lieberman said it was unlikely that Reid would slow the bill coming to the floor because of critics' objections.

Tom Ridge, a former homeland security secretary now at the Chamber of Commerce, said that companies support elements of the bill that allow better information sharing between the government and companies about threats and attacks as they develop.

But the chamber opposed putting DHS in charge of critical infrastructure to ensure key companies can defend their networks from dangerous attacks.

Defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) have been among the high-profile victims of cyberattacks. Others include web search leader Google Inc (GOOG.O), Citigroup (C.N) bank and exchange operator Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ.O).

Despite the criticisms, Collins argued for moving the bill quickly, citing data showing that cybercrime globally cost $114 billion a year. "It would be irresponsible for us not to pass legislation because of turf battles," she said.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation that overlaps with the Senate measure on some points.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Wipro Results

People walk in the Wipro campus in Bangalore June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files

Wipro sees rosier end to year as U.S. clients spend

India's third-biggest software services firm Wipro Ltd , under pressure to improve lacklustre sales growth, said it saw a rosier end to the year as more confident U.S. clients increase spending.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

New Email Service

New Email Service

Google launches new email service dubbed "Inbox".  Full Article 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack

China-backed hackers may have infiltrated Apple's iCloud - blog.  Full Article 

User Data Security

User Data Security

Apple CEO discusses security with top Chinese official amid hacking claims - Xinhua.  Full Article 

Patent Wars

Patent Wars

Big Tech winning battle with 'patent trolls'.  Full Article 

Record Season

Record Season

FedEx expects record peak volume of 22.6 million packages on Dec. 15.  Full Article 

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo ekes out Q3 revenue gain despite display ad weakness.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage