“As National Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to a close, the talk on Capitol Hill is once again turning to the consideration and passage of comprehensive legislation to beef up cybersecurity. With Congress slated to return for a lame duck session two weeks after next Tuesday’s elections, what are the chances for a cybersecurity bill to be approved before the books close on the 111th Congress in December?
“‘It looks to me like comprehensive legislation will probably wait until next year,’ said Louis Tucker, Republican staff director with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a panel discussion on cybersecurity legislation sponsored by the Heritage Foundation Tuesday.
“Tucker came to stump on behalf of a cybersecurity bill promoted by Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), called the National Cyberinfrastructure Protection Act of 2010.
“Though this cybersecurity bill is not the measure that enjoys the most support in the Senate, Tucker said it is superior to other legislation now under consideration.
“Tucker said the Bond-Hatch Bill takes a different approach than other legislation which he said takes a ‘parochial or committee-specific approach to this issue.’
“The other legislation is S. 3480, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010. Backed by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). The measure currently enjoys the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).
“But prior to lawmakers leaving town to campaign for re-election, the measure was bogged down over disputes over which agency should be responsible for private sector cybersecurity, and how much authority the White House should have over private sector networks in the event of a cyber emergency.
“Brandon Milhorn, the minority staff director for the Homeland Security Committee, and one of the principal architects of S. 3480…said Collins’ priority was to see that this function ended up in the agency which she feels is best suited and equipped to handle cybersecurity.
“Milhorn added the goal is to give this center clear responsibility for enforcing NIST’s cybersecurity protocols, and to build a broad civilian approach to cybersecurity.
“John Kneuer, CEO of JKC Consulting, and the former assistant Commerce secretary in charge of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under the Bush 43 administration, said he agreed with that aspect of the Lieberman-Collins bill.
“Kneuer said he’d rather see quick legislative action on the immediate need for a central government authority to facilitate cybersecurity information sharing, than a comprehensive bill, which he does not feel will pass during the lame duck session of Congress.”
I played highlights of the event on the show today. Click to watch the event: