One side compromised with the other, alleged deals were done, criticisms were leveled, a possible veto was signaled (threatened would be too strong in this case), alleged deals unraveled, unprincipled behavior was alleged. Further compromise was probably undermined. See Declan McCollough’s report at CNET.
Yesterday was a typical afternoon on Capitol Hill. A very similar summary might be written of your local City Hall, union hall, church board, or any place that decision making takes place. Something like this has happened since we first gathered around pre-historic fire pits.
Unlike many of our challenges, differences of judgment on cybersecurity cross partisan and ideological divides. This is a good thing suggesting the potential for actual thinking and creativity has not — yet — been extinguished.
There is also a widely shared judgment that something needs to be done.
Four Senators blogging at The Hill criticize the House legislation as insufficient, but also argue, “The system is already blinking red in warning. FBI Director Robert Mueller has predicted that, in the near future, cyberattacks will surpass terrorism as the country’s greatest threat, while Chertoff, who served in the George W. Bush administration, said cyber threats are “one of the most seriously disruptive challenges to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age.”
In a Statement of Administration Policy, unidentified authors at the Office of Management and Budget write:
The Administration is committed to increasing public-private sharing of information about cybersecurity threats as an essential part of comprehensive legislation to protect the Nation’s vital information systems and critical infrastructure. The sharing of information must be conducted in a manner that preserves Americans’ privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace. Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, in its current form.
In an opinion piece Congressman Mac Thornberry writes, “We cannot let the quest for the perfect, overarching bill prevent us from achieving the good, a-step-in-the-right-direction bill. In cybersecurity, we cannot afford to wait any longer to get it done perfectly. We need to act now.”
For most of those engaged in this legislative process the question is not if, but how. Would be remarkable if the contestants might recognize how much they agree. I wonder what sort of legislation might emerge from such an epiphany?
The four pieces of cybersecurity legislation should be considered by the Committee of the Whole later today. I will be offline, but will join you in watching and listening for what the process might say about cybersecurity and more.
LATE THURSDAY UPDATE: Late this afternoon the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was passed by the House on a bipartisan vote of 248-168. Forty-two Democrats voted for the bill and 28 Republicans voted against it. Senate approval is unlikely. The White House has raised the prospect of a veto.