Security Experts:

Cybersecurity Bill Could Be Dead On The Hill

According to The Hill, a blog reporting on Congressional activities, the cybersecurity bill that has had a rocky life in Washington is now likely dead. Both sides of the political spectrum are showing little interest in working out the issues.

Essentially, election season has put the brakes on a bill aimed at protecting the U.S. from cyber attacks. Despite pressure and pleas from the Obama administration and top officials, the bill only got 52 of votes needed to pass the Senate in August, but the story didn’t end there. President Obama considered an executive order that would focus on some of the areas of the bill deemed needed the most, but that order – while circulated in draft form – was never signed.  

Senate Stalls with Amendments to Cybersecurity Bill

Earlier this month, GOP leadership warned President Obama against proceeding with an executive order that would enable parts of the stalled bill. A letter signed by seven senators warned the President that such an order would “solidify the present divide.”  

But it appears that such a divide is exactly what’s killing the bill. A full docket in the Senate means that the cybersecurity bill is unlikely to get any attention before the session is adjourned at the end of the year.

"Not one thing has changed to shift the political dynamic to get [a bill] passed," one tech lobbyist said, in an interview with The Hill.

"It's going to take a lot of time to find a compromise and it doesn't seem like they're fighting for one. I don't see either side feeling the pressure to compromise."

Even if a version did pass, it likely would see little to no support in the house. Even Senator Lieberman, the bill’s lead author, told the political blog that things were rocky.

"The senator, by nature an optimistic man, puts the odds of passing comprehensive cybersecurity legislation in the lame duck session at less than 50-50," said Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that Lieberman chairs.

Assuming that an executive order on cybersecurity comes at all, it would be signed in mid-November or early December. However, if candidate Romney wins his bid for the Whitehouse, the order could be overturned. 

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.