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Cyber security legislation a priority in Senate

Sen. Tom Carper

Democratic leaders of the Senate homeland security, commerce and intelligence committees say comprehensive cyber security legislation is a priority for the 113th Congress and introduced a bill to get the conversation on the issue started on Capitol Hill.

Incoming chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV), and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. 21, the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013 on Jan. 23.

The last congress, despite efforts by the former chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), failed to push Cyber security legislation through, even though intelligence experts warned of looming electronic vulnerabilities and dangers.

Carper said in a statement that protection of the nation’s electric grid, water supply and transportation networks was crucial. “Given all that relies on a safe and secure Internet, it is vital that we do what's necessary to protect ourselves from hackers, cyber thieves, and terrorists,” he said.

“I  was disappointed that Congress could not come together to pass bipartisan Cyber security legislation that I co-authored in the last Congress -- the Cybersecurity Act of 2012— because it was a significant improvement over our current Cyber security laws, which numerous experts have said do not go far enough to protect us,” he said.

Carper said the new bill would begin the groundwork needed to “balance the needs of both government and the private sector…”

Cyber legislation in the last congress failed largely because lawmakers and private companies couldn’t agree on mandatory and voluntary safeguards for infrastructure.

The bill doesn’t mention government regulation of private infrastructure companies or establishing Cyber security best practices for them.

"The new Congress has a real opportunity to reach needed consensus on bipartisan legislation that will strengthen our nation's Cyber security," said Rockefeller. "The private sector and the government must work together to secure the networks that are vital to American businesses and communities. It is a priority this year to act on comprehensive Cyber security legislation," said Rockefeller.


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