Cybsersecurity Bills Draw Praise

Companion Cybersecurity Bill Passes in House

Fans of the House cybersecurity bills that passed this week in were lining up to praise the moves.

That included, not surprisingly, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which earlier in the week joined with telecom associations to urge passage of the legislation, which would make it easier for communications networks to share cyber threat info with the government and each other.

"This week the House of Representatives took an important bipartisan step toward securing the nation's critical infrastructure and economy, protecting our Internet networks and safeguarding consumers," said NCTA president Michael Powell. He says "step" because the bill still need to pass in the Senate. "We commend the House on passage of two complementary cybersecurity bills (H.R. 1560 and H.R. 1731) that remove barriers to real-time sharing of cyber threat indicators to improve our cyber defenses. Everyday cyber attacks threaten our nation's economy, security and consumers, and the cable industry has taken significant steps to protect our networks and customers. With this growing threat, we are pleased to see congressional action that will facilitate more effective information sharing, while at the same time protecting Americans' privacy and civil liberties."

The Telecommunications Industry Association said the bills would provide networks stronger defenses against hackers.

"Cyber-attacks are not just a threat to our national security, but to Americans' economic security as well," said TIA CEO Scott Belcher in a statement. "The cybersecurity legislation passed by the House today provides greater legal protections to those who share critical information about cyber threats and vulnerabilities, encouraging the voluntary sharing of data that will provide networks and users with stronger defenses against hackers."

Admiral James Barnett, former head of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security bureau and now head of the cybersecurity practice and law firm Venable, said passage of cybersecurity legislation was a "huge step," as was the prospect of passage in the Senate.

"Finally Congress is acting on incentives for businesses to do the right thing on cyber," said Barnett in a statement. "The cybersecurity fight is in the private sector, which responds to inducements like limited liability. The role of government should be to reinforce cyber protections. Of course, this is only the start..."

The Software & Information Industry Association, which represents software and digital content companies, said it was happy with what it called the strong privacy and liability protections in the bills.

Mark MacCarthy, SIIA's vice president of public policy, released the following statement:

"The House action today signifies that cybersecurity is indeed a bipartisan, national security priority," said MacCarthy. "Early detection and notification is critical to preventing and mitigating attacks, but businesses are often hamstrung in their ability to share essential information. Because of the strong privacy and liability protections included in this framework, government agencies, companies, and other stakeholders will be able to quickly and securely share information without fear of legal or regulatory repercussions. We urge the Senate to move quickly to advance this critical legislation, and provide businesses with a necessary tool to help combat this growing threat."

“We commend the House for passing information sharing legislation designed to help detect and stop cyber attacks," said Motion Picture Association of America President Chris Dodd. "The Internet is a tremendous source of creativity and innovation, and our studios are using it every day to create vivid stories and make them available to audiences. But criminal enterprises and foreign governments are also abusing that connectivity to steal trade secrets and creative content and invade users’ personal privacy. That’s why we must facilitate collaboration among and between law enforcement and the private sector. This is a good step in that direction, and while protecting privacy must be part of the discussion, it’s important to remember that when data is stolen, privacy is also lost.”

Credit card companies, through the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) had been calling on Congress to pass legislation, so FSR was buoyed by the news, saying the bills provided legal clarity and certainty.

"Our nation is another step closer to better protecting its citizens from increasing cybersecurity threats that put the personal information of consumers and the strength of our businesses at risk," said FSR president Tim Pawlenty. "We urge political leaders to collaborate and get this crucial issue over the finish line."

The finish line is the Senate, where passage is also likely. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.