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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, August 5, 2015

McConnell urges swift passage of cybersecurity bill

By J. Preston Carter, J.D., LL.M.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) urged the Senate to finalize the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) (S. 754) and “pass it this week.” He said the bipartisan legislation would provide for the sharing of threat information and would help the public and private sectors defeat cyberattacks.

McConnell said, “The House has already passed two White House-backed cybersecurity bills to help address the issue.” He added that similar legislation—S. 754—is now before the Senate. McConnell called it a “strong, bipartisan, transparent bill that’s been meticulously vetted by both parties in committee.”

According to McConnell, Democrats remain willing to proceed on the bipartisan bill if allowed to offer some relevant amendments, which he said he would be willing to allow. “Now that we have a path forward that gives both sides what they said they need, I invite our colleagues to join us now in moving forward on this bill. I invite our colleagues to allow the Senate to cooperate in a spirit of good faith to pass a bill this week—so we can help protect the American people from more devastating cyberattacks,” the Majority Leader said.

Industry support. A coalition of industry associations has started a campaign to urge the Senate to move forward on the bill (see Banking and Finance Law Daily, Aug. 4, 2015). Recent letters from industry groups to the Senate support this campaign.

A letter from the Consumer Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, and National Association of Federal Credit Unions states that in addition to CISA, “which would be a strong step towards improving our defenses against cyber threats, we encourage even further steps to be taken to protect consumers’ sensitive information from the scourge of data breaches.” The organizations urge the Senate to take up legislation to establish a “strong, but scalable, national data security standard to safeguard sensitive and personal consumer data from cyber criminals,” such as the standard proposed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo) in the Data Security Act of 2015 (S. 961) (see Banking and Finance Law Daily, April 17, 2015).

According to the Financial Services Roundtable letter, “antiquated legal restrictions leave private industries at legal risk when sharing relevant cyber threat information bi-directionally with the government and each other.” The FSR believes CISA will help to “remedy these shortcomings by breaking down the silos, improving the security of firms of all sizes that can benefit from enhanced sharing of real-time threat information.”

Finally, a letter from the Protecting America’s Cyber Networks Coalition pointed to “passing cybersecurity information-sharing legislation” as a “top policy goal.” The Coalition is a partnership of several dozen “leading business associations representing nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.” Their letter pointed out that Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), the authors of CISA, recently revised their bill to increase its privacy protections. Among other things, the managers’ amendment further limits the sharing of cyber threat data to “cybersecurity purposes.”

Closely related, the letter adds, the revised measure eliminates the government’s ability to use cyber threat indicators to investigate and prosecute “serious violent felonies.” Taken together, the associations believe the two changes “put to rest” any false claims that CISA is a “surveillance” bill.

Companies: Consumer Bankers Association; Credit Union National Association; Financial Services Roundtable; Independent Community Bankers of America; National Association of Federal Credit Unions; Protecting America’s Cyber Networks Coalition

MainStory: TopStory BankingOperations IdentityTheft Privacy

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