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Cybersecurity Act of 2012 - Sponsors Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins & Rockefeller

August 02, 2012

The five chief sponsors of the revised Cybersecurity Act of 2012 discussed the concessions they made to their original bill in order to pass some form of legislation at a press conference on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at noon in the Radio and TV Gallery.

The co-sponsors are: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca., and Federal Financial Management Subcommittee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del..

Press conference participants explained the differences between the earlier version of the Cybersecurity Act and the new one – which were made to win Republican votes so Congress can addresses the increasing cyber attacks, or immediate threat of attack, from foreign nations, hacktivists, criminals, and terrorists against the nation’s most critical cyber systems.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee began holding periodic hearings on cybersecurity in the late 1990s, before the Committee's jurisdiction expanded to cover homeland security. In 2010, Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Collins, and Federal Financial Management Subcommittee Chairman Carper introduced S. 3480, the Protecting Cyber Space as a National Asset Act to provide the government with a clear structure for dealing with cybersecurity, including the security of the most critical infrastructure owned by the private sector. The bill was passed out of Committee but was not taken up by the full Senate before the Congressional session ended.

In February of 2011, the three Senators reintroduced S. 413, the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act, which was very similar to the Cyber Space as a National Asset legislation. Since other committees had internet related legislation, Majority Leader Reid directed all committees of jurisdiction to come together and produce a single piece of legislation. That bill, The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, S.2105, was introduced in February 2012 by Senators Lieberman, Collins, Rockefeller, and Feinstein.

After months of additional negotiations with privacy and civil liberties groups, Senators from both parties, and industry representatives, a revised version of The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, S.3414, was introduced July 17, 2012, in a good faith effort to find common ground with opponents of the bill.

Days of last minute negotiations, however, produced no concessions from opponents. Debate in the Senate took place the week of July 27. And although a majority of Senators supported the bill in an August 2 vote, the 52-46 vote fell short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture, or end debate.

Senator Lieberman said because of the urgency of the problem of vulnerable critical infrastructure, he would "remain ready to return to negotiations for a law."

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