updated 10:55 pm EST, Wed November 14, 2012
Senate torpedoes bill with 51-47 vote
In its first day back in session, the US Senate voted against continuing the process on a cybersecurity omnibus bill. The Senate voted 51-47 to cease discussions and move to a final vote on the bill, but fell short of the 60 votes required to advance the bill. This is the second failure to advance the bill in three months.
"It is disappointing that senators haven't yet been able to reach an agreement on cybersecurity legislation," Business Software Association President and CEO Robert Holleyman said. "There is no getting around the fact that we need to bolster America's cybersecurity capabilities. We urge both parties to put this issue at the top of the agenda in the next Congress."
"Everyone should understand cybersecurity is dead for this Congress," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He added that "whatever we do on this bill, it's not enough for the [US] Chamber of Commerce," a pro-business group that lobbied in favor of a bill. Reid invited President Obama to issue an executive order "to fully protect our nation from the cybersecurity threat" until a new Congress can take up the issue again at a later date.
Some politicians have criticized the bill, which mandates the Department of Homeland Security to set standards for Internet security. The bill as it stands allegedly gives the DHS too much power, critics say. Privacy issues have also been spotted in the bill, with it making provisions for ISPs to spy on and collect data from customers to share with the government and law enforcement without a warrant.
If passed, the bill would create a governmental council to work with businesses to generate voluntary standards for security. Incentives would be offered to companies that volunteer for programs associated with the bill, including data breach lawsuit protection and increased aid on cybersecurity matters from the federal government.