A friend of mine, Margaret Melson, contacted Delaware Senator Tom Carper regarding his vote for CISPA (he plans to vote yes). What follows is his response.
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about the Cybersecurity Act. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.
As you know, the threat of a catastrophic attack on our critical information systems has grown over the past several years. The Senate Sergeant at Arms recently reported that the computer systems of the Executive Branch agencies and Congress are attacked an average of 1.8 billion times a month. Given the increased sophistication and scale of these attacks, many experts in the cyber intelligence community believe that it is not a matter of “if” a damaging attack will happen, but rather “when” it will happen. If such an attack were carried out, it could cost billions of dollars in economic damage and possibly even thousands of lives.
Unfortunately, current law has not kept pace with the threat of cyber attack. To respond to a major cyber attack in the 21 st century, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), introduced S. 2105, the Cybersecurity Act, on February 14, 2012. This legislation would direct the Department of Homeland Security to set risk-based security requirements for critical infrastructure like telecommunications networks, electric grids, and financial systems. The owners and operators of these critical infrastructure systems would collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to protect against an attack and would be able to choose which protective measures ensure security without imposing an undue burden on businesses. S. 2105 has been referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on which I serve, for further review.
With that said, I have heard from a number of constituents, like you, who are concerned that the Cybersecurity Act would give unprecedented powers to the President to control the Internet. Unlike earlier versions of this legislation, however, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 does not contain the so-called “internet kill-switch” language that raised many concerns a few years ago. Moreover, this legislation encourages a private-public partnership that shares security risk information and solutions so that, in an event of a serious cyber attack, there will be minimal interference to businesses and consumers.
Please be assured that I will continue to support reasonable measures of legislation that protect free speech while keeping our country safe from a cyber attack. Thank you again for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or other matters of importance to you.
United States Senator
CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was passed through a surprise vote in the House on Thursday night. The vote count was 248 ayes with 168 nays. The bill now heads to the Senate, and if it passes there, to President Obama’s desk. Obama will be able to sign CISPA or cancel it.
CISPA was scheduled to be voted on by the House on Friday but the House passed the bill after a number of amendments were passed. Some of these amendments have Americans upset. This bill will now allow the government to use private information obtained through CISPA to investigate and prosecute “cybersecurity crime”. The definition of “cybersecurity crime” has also changed.
The new clauses define “cybersecurity crime” as any crime involving network disruption or hacking.
Many believe this is really about making people share their private information.