Break out the party hats! House Republicans have declared this week Cybersecurity Week.
To celebrate they plan to pass this spring’s turkey, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). GOP control of the lower chamber means CISPA will be approved no matter how much opponents protest. The real fight over this–and all other cybersecurity bills–will play out in the Senate, where dysfunction rules.
CISPA sure is creating some interesting political bedfellows. President Obama and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) both oppose it. The only other thing they agree on may be that Mr. Obama is not a Socialist. (Congrats to Mr. Paul on getting his own video game, by the way. Too bad the title Fallout is already taken.)
While 18 House Dems have said they are against the bill, their opposion will have about as much impact as the 718,000+ names on an anti-CISPA petition. The Dems do intend to submit a number of amendments to the bill meant to address some glaring privacy concerns. But I hope they aren’t holding their breath; CISPA will be passed by Friday.
Meanwhile, the Senate will have to choose between John McCain’s (R-Angry) CISPA-clone proposal and one from Susan Collins (R-Lobsters) and Joe Lieberman (I-Who Cares?). That one is backed by the White House (and most definitely not by Ron Paul) and would let DHS oversee all critical U.S. cyber infrastructure. I have to wonder, is there any way to vote "none of the above?"
The administration is putting on a full-court press to get this passed. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, DHS bosses--former (Michael Chertoff) and current (Janet Napolitano)--FBI Director Robert Mueller and National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander are all making the rounds on its behalf.
If the Senate does pass Collins-Lieberman (not to be confused with Rossington-Collins. Skynrd!) the whole thing goes to committee where stalemate could be the best possible outcome. House GOP leaders have already said they will not approve a bill that grants new regulatory powers to the government.
Unfortunately, while this comedy continues a very big problem remains: The cybersecurity, of lack therefor, of the nation’s power grid and other critical networks.
FUN READ: While a whole bunch of legit companies and industry associations support CISPA, Sean Lawson of Forbes has a good look at one very questionable supporter.