The fact that the U.S. is willing to take such an offensive role raises the stakes for the defensive side of this battle. Not only do criminals continue to infiltrate our financial networks, as they have for years, but now we're courting retaliation from nations who might very well launch their own cyberattacks against us. Cyberwar is heating up-and instead of strengthening our defenses, Congress dawdles.
The appropriate course for Congress to take remains unclear, regardless of your political perspective. The right wing, in the form of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shot down the Lieberman/Collins bill, citing onerous regulation, an expansion of government and interference with the open market. But in a classic case of odd bedfellows, the left wing, in the person of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also had issues with the cybersecurity bill, as it called for private industry and government to share potentially private information about US citizens, thus impinging on the civil rights of Americans.
As Franken eloquently puts it, "Once a company gives the government cyberthreat information, the government shouldn't be able to say, 'Hey, this email doesn't have a virus. But it does say that Michael is late on his taxes. I'm going to send that to the IRS.'"
News: Cybersecurity Report Stresses Need for Cooperation
Both sides present valid points. While appropriate, balanced regulation might be efficacious, and no one wants to see layers of expensive governmental bureaucracy or unnecessary interference with day-to-day commerce. No one wants to give up civil rights to improve security, either, especially when there's no guarantee we will truly become more secure for having made such a deal with the devil.
While Republicans intend for SECURE IT to address the flaws of the Lieberman/Collins cybersecurity bill, it's not clear whether the new bill will solve more problems than it causes. It goes out of its way to avoid introducing any new regulations that might be burdensome on the private sector and calls for no new regulatory authority-good for the private sector, perhaps, but at the risk of being toothless. As Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) puts it, "I have no faith that federal regulators should take the lead on cybersecurity. The regulatory process simply cannot keep up with the rapid pace of technology."