White House mulls move as cybersecurity bill fails (Update)

Nov 15, 2012 by Rob Lever
The White House said it was considering an executive order on cybersecurity after legislation on infrastructure protection failed again in the Senate.

The White House said Thursday it was considering an executive order on cybersecurity after legislation on infrastructure protection failed again in the Senate.

"The president is determined to protect our nation against cyber threats," said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council after Wednesday's failure in the Senate of a bill aimed at protecting US "critical infrastructure" from cyber attacks.

Hayden said the White House was exploring ways "to more effectively secure the nation's critical infrastructure by working collaboratively with the private sector" and that this may result in an executive order.

She said such an order "is not a substitute for new legislation" and "doesn't create new powers or authorities (but) it does set policy under existing law."

In the lame-duck session, the bill backed by President Barack Obama failed to get the 60 votes needed to proceed under Senate rules. It was backed by a 51-47 vote.

The failure of the bill for the second time in three months prompted political sniping from supporters and detractors.

"Once again, Senate Republicans have chosen to filibuster much-needed cybersecurity legislation and, in so doing, have ignored the advice of the country's most senior military and national security officials," said Senator Jay Rockefeller, a key backer of the measure.

"Republican members have once again sided with the Chamber of Commerce, and not our military officials, on a national security issue."

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, however, claimed the bill was "flawed" and failed to see adequate debate.

"No one disputes the need for Congress to address cybersecurity," Grassley said.

"However, members do disagree with the notion this problem requires legislation that increases the size of the federal government bureaucracy and places new burdens and regulation on businesses."

The measure was blocked amid opposition from an unusual coalition of civil libertarians—who feared it could allow too much government snooping—and conservatives who said it would create a new bureaucracy.

US military officials have argued that legislation is needed to protect infrastructure critical to safeguarding national defense, including power grids, water systems and industries ranging from transportation to communication.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican who supported the bill, said the issue remains of critical importance.

"Every day that we wait, our country becomes more vulnerable to a serious cyber attack, indeed a catastrophic attack," she said in a statement.

"Experts have also repeatedly warned that the computer systems that run our critical infrastructure—our electric grid, pipelines, water systems, financial networks, and transportation systems—are vulnerable to a major cyber attack."

Some industry leaders expressed disappointment on the failure of the bill.

"Stalemate doesn't make the issue go away," said Software Alliance president Robert Holleyman.

"There is no getting around the fact that we need to bolster America's cybersecurity capabilities. We urge both parties to put this issue at the top of the agenda in the next Congress."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which promotes online freedoms, called the Senate bill "dangerously vague" and a threat to privacy.

"We're looking forward to having a more informed debate about cybersecurity next session, and hope Congress will bear in mind the serious privacy interests of individual Internet users," said EFF attorney Lee Tien.

"We don't need to water down existing privacy law to address the challenges of cybersecurity."

In a related matter, the White House confirmed reports this week that Obama signed a directive which can help the US military thwart cyber attacks.

"This step is part of the administration's focus on cybersecurity as a top priority. The cyber threat has evolved since 2004, and we have new experiences to take into account," a senior US official said.

"The directive itself is classified, so we cannot discuss all of the elements contained in it," the official said, adding that it "establishes principles and processes for the use of cyber operations so that cyber tools are integrated with the full array of national security tools we have at our disposal."

Explore further: Lions Gate partners with online outfit RocketJump

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Senate may go on break without passing cyber bill

Aug 02, 2012

The U.S. Senate could leave town this week for a monthlong break without passing legislation to protect the country's electrical grid, water supplies and other critical industries from cyberattack and electronic espionage.

US Senate fails to approve cybersecurity measure (Update)

Aug 02, 2012

The Senate failed Thursday to pass legislation to protect the U.S. electrical grid, water supplies and other critical industries from cyberattack and electronic espionage, despite dire warnings from top national ...

White House set to unveil cyber plan

May 12, 2011

The White House on Thursday is expected to unveil its proposal to enhance the nation's cybersecurity, laying out plans to require industry to better protect systems that run critical infrastructure like the electrical grid, ...

US Senate in new cybersecurity push

Feb 15, 2012

US senators, warning of potentially catastrophic cyberattacks, introduced a bill Tuesday aimed at protecting critical infrastructure such as power, water and transportation systems.

House moves ahead with cybersecurity bill (Update)

Apr 26, 2012

(AP) -- House Republicans are pushing ahead with legislation to protect the nation's critical infrastructure and corporations from electronic attacks despite Obama administration objections that the legislation fails to ...

Recommended for you

How does false information spread online?

1 hour ago

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

Instagram photo-sharing service goes down

Apr 12, 2014

Popular photo-sharing site Instagram was not working Saturday, as frustrated users quickly turned to social network Twitter and other web sites to share their complaints.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

xX_GT_Xx
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2012
"members do disagree with the notion this problem requires legislation that increases the size of the federal government bureaucracy and places new burdens and regulation on businesses"

Liars, as usual. The bill only cover Federal agencies, and specifically prohibits regulation of commercial IT products. Section 104 b (2).

http://www.govtra...105/text
VendicarD
5 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2012
Republicans did the same thing to the Airport Security plan that Al Gore submitted during the Clinton Administration.

Gore's bill would have required locks on pilot cabin doors, and improved airport security measures that would have prevented the 911 hijackings.

Repubicans in congress refused to consider Gore's bill and claimed that it was a waste of money, and that "hijackings are a thing of the past".

Is history repeating itself?

More news stories

How does false information spread online?

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Melting during cooling period

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...

Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to high ...