Cyber Security Bill Blocked in U.S. Senate

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Senate Republicans this week blocked a vote on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., attributed the opposition to a fast-tracked process and the failure to allow fully open amendments," writes InformationWeek's J. Nicholas Hoover. "Numerous national security officials have urged the bill's passage, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has repeatedly voiced strong opposition."

"Senate Republicans blocked the bill in August over concerns that it would saddle industry with burdensome new regulations. ... The Cybersecurity Act would have encouraged companies that operate critical infrastructure -- such as water plants, electric companies and transportation networks -- to take steps to boost the security of their computer systems and networks," write The Hill's Jennifer Martinez and Ramsey Cox. "It also aimed to make it easier for industry to share information about cyber threats spotted on their networks with the government."

"Backers had hoped to move the bill during the post-election session," writes Reuters' Charles Abbott. "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said recently that attacks on U.S. financial institutions and stock exchanges showed the need for more cyber safeguards. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that unnamed foreign elements had been targeting computer control systems that operate chemical, electricity and water plants and those that guide transportation."

"Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W.Va.) blasted Republicans for blocking the bill, and urged the President to 'employ all available executive means' to boost national security," writes Multichannel News' John Eggerton. "'I hope that my colleagues will reconsider the path we're on,' he said in a floor statement. 'At some point, if we don't do anything, there will be a major cyber attack and it will do great damage to the United States. After it's over, the American people will ask, just as they asked after 9/11, what could we have done to stop this?'"

"Congressional inaction has already spurred the Obama administration to consider issuing a cybersecurity executive order that would mandate a role for the federal government in critical infrastructure protection," writes FierceGovernmentIT's David Perera.