Jun 10 2015
Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) spoke Wednesday on the Senate floor regarding cybersecurity legislation:
“Last week we learned of the latest in a string of massive breaches of private information from cyber penetrations, this time of government personnel records held by the Office of Personnel Management.
In its annual worldwide threat assessment, the intelligence community this year ranked cyber intrusions and attacks as the number one threat to our nation’s security.
Cyber attacks and threats are also a major drag on our economy, with the theft of billions and billions of dollars of intellectual property and actual money from our nation’s businesses. Quite simply, cyber attacks are a major and growing threat to every aspect of our lives.
And it is with that background that Senator Burr and I began working early this year on a new cybersecurity information sharing bill.
It is a first-step bill in that, for sharing company-to-company or sharing cyber threat information directly with the government, a company would receive liability protection and therefore feel free to have this kind of constructive interchange.
The Senate Select Intelligence Committee produced a bill in the last Congress but it didn’t receive a vote. Chairman Burr and I have been determined not only to get a vote, but to get a bill signed into law.
And it should be evident to everybody that the only way we’ll get this done is if it’s bipartisan.
With significant compromises on both sides, we put together the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill approved in March by our Intelligence Committee by an overwhelming 14-1 vote.
That bill has been ready for Senate consideration for nearly three months, but has not yet been brought to the floor. Last week’s attack underscores why such legislation is necessary.
The Democratic Leader told me many weeks ago that this issue is too important for political wrangling, that he would not seek to block or slow down consideration of the bill and would work to move the bill quickly.
So the bill is ready for floor consideration. Now a number of my colleagues would like to propose amendments, as is their right. And I expect I would support some of them and would oppose some of them.
But the Senate should have an opportunity to fully consider the bill, to receive the input of other committees with jurisdiction in this area.
Now, unless we do this, we won’t have a bipartisan vote, I believe, because like it or not, no matter how simple—and I’ve been through two bills now—this is not an easy bill to draft because there are conflicts on both sides.
Filing the cybersecurity bill as an amendment to the defense authorization bill prompted a lot of legitimate and understandable concern from both sides of the aisle. People want a debate on the legislation and they want an opportunity to offer relevant amendments.
And to do this as an amendment—when Senator Burr discussed it with me, I indicated I did not want to go on and make that proposal, and I think it’s a mistake.
I very much hope that the Majority Leader will reconsider this path and that once we have finished with the defense authorization bill, the Senate can take up, consider and hopefully approve the cybersecurity legislation.
I think to do it in any other way, we’re in real trouble. This is the product of experience, so I very much hope that there can be a change in procedure and that this bill—I know our leader will agree—could come up directly following the defense bill.”