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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Financial Services Groups Push Cybersecurity Bill

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Top financial industry lobbying groups sent letters to the Senate leadership Tuesday calling for swift adoption of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which could be brought to the Senate floor for debate by Wednesday.

The industry says the bill would remove barriers to sharing cyber threat information. Opponents call the bill a threat to Americans’ privacy.

Ken Bentsen, president and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a Tuesday letter to adopt the bipartisan S. 754, also known as CISA.

“A large-scale cyberattack is likely the most significant and systemic threat facing our economy today so it is appropriate that so much time and energy is being focused on identifying solutions to mitigate that risk, both within the government and within the private sector,” Bentsen said.

Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, told members of the Senate the same day that passing CISA “would provide different sectors of the economy, government agencies and law enforcement with data about cybersecurity threats that could help them mitigate incoming attacks.”

Currently, Pawlenty said, “legal restrictions can put private industries at risk for legal penalties for sharing cyber information. CISA would foster a level of cooperation across public and private partnerships, adding a critical new level of defense against cyberattacks.”

FSR launched an ad campaign Monday to help push for passage of CISA, which encourage businesses to share cyber threat information with each other and with government agencies.

The ads state that CISA would “encourage and enable many sectors of the economy, including financial institutions, to share information about cyber threats creating a ‘team America’ approach to addressing cyberattacks.”

Both FSR and SIFMA had urged McConnell to take up the bill in April.

CISA would encourage the sharing of critical cyber threat information between financial institutions, among and between sectors, and with the federal government in order to protect consumers and the nation’s financial infrastructure.

CISA was approved earlier this year by a 14-1 vote by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is leading a charge against the bill, was the only member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote against CISA.

The Hill reported that McConnell could start the CISA debate “in earnest on Wednesday, with a final vote potentially sometime Thursday, just before Congress takes it August break.

Wyden called CISA last Wednesday “a flawed bill that threatens Americans’ privacy without making our personal information any safer. The grassroots and privacy advocates deserve enormous credit for pulling CISA into the daylight and exposing its warts to the public.”

Wyden said he planned to use the next month “to work with advocates to build opposition to this proposal and keep it from creeping back when the Senate returns in September.”

McConnell said Thursday that he hoped to turn to CISA this week and “achieve something for the American people” before the August recess.  

McConnell also said Thursday that Congress would discuss how to fund the government after the August recess. “For the moment, we’re still trying to move bills that have bipartisan support.”


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