The Senate began debate late Tuesday on S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, controversial cybersecurity legislation supported by Wall Street trade groups and banks, but opposed by big tech companies like Apple and Google because they see the bill as a threat to Americans’ privacy.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Financial Services Roundtable have both called on Senate leaders to pass the bill, as they say it would establish clear lines of communication between the private sector and government agencies responsible for cybersecurity.
Both groups urged Senate leaders in August to take up and quickly pass the legislation, known as CISA.
Industry groups expect a vote on CISA early next week.
In comments on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that the authors of CISA, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., “have worked hard” on the bill, which he said addresses a “serious national security issue,” and that the bill should have been “addressed” long ago.
Reid argued that Senate Democrats “were ready to do a comprehensive cybersecurity bill three years ago. But our Republican colleagues blocked us from even debating the bill because the Chamber of Commerce opposed it.”
Several months ago, Reid continued, “we reached an agreement with Republicans to begin debating this cybersecurity legislation. And now that we are on it, I hope that we can process it in an efficient and bipartisan matter.”
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, president and CEO of FSR, urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid in a Tuesday letter signed by other financial services trade group leaders to pass CISA and defeat any amendments that would “undermine its goals.”
Pawlenty along with the other CEOs stated that current laws related to the sharing of cyber threat information are unclear, confusing, uncoordinated and do not encourage activities that could better protect customers.