Just the other day we were announcing our readers about the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 reaching the American Senate. Recent news informs that the legislation did not pass, giving reason of celebration to activists and privacy rights supporters.
Although supporters of the CSA urged the Senate to pass the legislation as national security is at stake, their wish did not come true. Prior to this failure, the CNN wrote:
“The risks to our nation are real and immediate,” Brennan said, adding that the White House doesn’t see the legislation as a partisan issue, but rather a matter of national security.
Brennan said that if passed, the new legislation would give the government the three legislative elements it needs to fend off cyberattacks: new information sharing between the government and private industry, better protection of critical infrastructure like the power grid and water filtration facilities, and authority for the Department of Homeland Security to unite federal resources to lead the government’s cybersecurity team.
“First and foremost, we see that the threat is real and we need to act now,” said Alexander, who recently returned from a hacker convention in Las Vegas, where he urged the best and the brightest to put their skills to work for the government.
He stressed that the new legislation would enable the government to prevent an attack, not just respond to one, and said the FBI, DHS, Cyber Command and the NSA can unite as a team to do so. He said he believes the current legislation adequately addresses privacy and civil liberty concerns that critics have raised.
However, the US Senate dismissed CSA right from the beginning. CNN reported:
“This is a moment of disappointment that I really cannot conceal,” Lieberman said after the vote. “But the threat of cyberattack is so real, so urgent and so clearly growing that I am not going to be petulant about this.”
On a telephone conference all with reporters Wednesday, Brennan and with other administration officials urged Congress to pass the bill.
“The risks to our nation are real and immediate,” Brennan said, adding that the White House didn’t see the legislation as a partisan issue, but rather a matter of national security.
Republicans opposed to the bill argued that the cybersecurity standards that would have been put in place allow for too much government regulation.
“How can the Senate ignore these repeated warnings from the experts of how at risk our national security, our economic prosperity, and indeed our American way of life it is,” Collins asked. “It just is incomprehensible to me that we would not proceed to this bill. There certainly is plenty of blame to go around.”
While the act was passing through the Senate, one of its provisions caused quite the panic as ISPs could have been able to block tunneling services like TOR and VPNs.
As for the legislation’s opponents, Demand Progress found this the perfect opportunity to thank its supporters. Before this victory, DP asked citizens to get in touch with their representatives and talk about their civil rights and how CSA2012 may affect them. After getting about half a million responses, DP wrote:
“We applaud the growing — and pleasantly surprising — number of senators who are prioritizing the privacy rights of Internet users. It’s a clear testament to the impact of grassroots activism” said Demand Progress executive director David Segal.
“We support the pro-privacy changes which have been made to the legislation and urge the Senate to uphold and strengthen them. While we thank Senators Franken, Wyden, and others for their efforts to raise privacy concerns, the draft bill doesn’t go far enough, and many of the protections contained therein could be stripped by floor amendments or in conference, so our members are still urging their senators to vote against final passage of the legislation.”
After finding out about the demise of CSA, Demand Progress e-mail ZeroPaid:
Million-member activist group Demand Progress hailed today’s demise of the Senate cyber-security bill today. It failed to achieve cloture, so will not proceed to a final vote. In recent months, members of the civil liberties and Internet freedom organization had sent more than 500,000 emails to the Senate urging lawmakers to stand up for Internet freedom and privacy as they debated cyber-security bills.
Even prior to the bill’s demise, grassroots activism has helped compel modifications to the legislation which made it far preferable to earlier drafts and to the House cyber-security bill (CISPA) which passed earlier this year. These changes included affirming that control of cyber-security data will remain in the hands of civilian agencies, that said data’s only allowable uses will be for cyber-security purposes or to prevent imminent threats, and others. But privacy activists remained concerned about potential for the legislation to allow companies to monitor their users’ data.
“There’s a newly empowered base of Internet activists across the United States, and alongside us stands a newly-strengthened corps of pro-privacy senators whom we look forward to working with to fight any future attacks on the Internet,” David Segal said.
“We’re grateful for their hard work to protect our privacy as the cyber-security bill was debated, and ask rank-and-file Internet users to thank them and encourage them to work with us down the road — we’ll surely need their help again.”
“You guys were amazing throughout this fight: Demand Progress members sent 500,000 emails to the Senate and made thousands of phone calls in opposition to the bill. Countless other activists took up this fight too — groups like the ACLU, EFF, Center for Democracy and Technology, Fight for the Future, and Free Press.
Just as important was the coalition of senators working on the inside to stand up for our rights. Several senators voted against cloture at least in part because of privacy concerns. And there’s a broader, newly-empowered bloc of senators who’ve helped fight for pro-privacy changes to the legislation — people like Ron Wyden (OR), Al Franken (MN), and Bernie Sanders (VT),” the organization concluded.