Previewing the forthcoming cybersecurity bill negotiations

Previewing the forthcoming cybersecurity bill negotiations

CYBERSECURITY CONFERENCE COMMITTEE PREVIEW – Today is the big day for a final Senate vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act and a list of amendments. In the House, attention is turning to the likely prospect of a conference committee that would have three bills to reconcile CISA, plus two cybersecurity measures that passed in April. “We were in a wait-and-see pattern for the longest time, … and just started to re-engage with House leadership on that process,” a House aide told MC. Another congressional source said the expectation is for a conference and vote by the end of this year. “We’re not expecting any fireworks or drama.”

Sure to be subject to debate: the location of the portal for information sharing, and whether sharing information through that portal will be the only way for companies to obtain liability protections. CISA requires DHS to be the location to receive those protections. The cybersecurity bill favored by the House Intelligence Committee leaves the preferred portal open-ended, while the House Homeland Security Committee’s bill gives DHS a leading role. And one Senate amendment might modify CISA to allow the FBI and Secret Service to serve as portals on the same level as DHS.

Another likely subject is how stringent the standard should be for removal of personal data from cyber threat indicators. The two House bills require companies to make “reasonable efforts” to remove personal data, a threshold that could be stricter or looser than CISA, depending on the how the amendments shake out today. The “reasonable effort” standard is a “middle of the road” threshold that protects privacy while “giving the private sector operators some degree of certainty that they can share data,” the House aide asserted.

– NUNES’ WAYS AND MEANS AMBITIONS: House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has been one of the central figures in cybersecurity information sharing legislation, along with top panel Democrat Adam Schiff, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, and House Homeland Chairman Mike McCaul and panel member John Ratcliffe. Nunes is contemplating a bid for the Ways and Means gavel with Paul Ryan’s expected departure for House speaker, POLITICO reported Monday. A congressional source reckons it won’t have much effect on negotiations over a cybersecurity bill. A new House Intelligence chairman would likely adopt Nunes’ position in conference, the source noted. And it might be a while before any new Ways and Means chairman is chosen anyway.

– A SENATE PERSPECTIVE: A Senate aide told MC it would be too difficult to predict major issues for conference negotiations with the House. “The bills are very similar. They in essence do the same thing – encourage information sharing and provide liability protections. The way they do them are quite different. You can’t just take Section A from our bill and Section B from the House bill and be done with it.” The aide added: “Every word of our bill has been negotiated. It all sort of fits together. We have to start a new conversation.”

HOW DID CISA OVERCOME PRIVACY GROUPS? If CISA passes as expected, it will be a reversal for privacy and civil liberties groups that have notched many wins in Congress in recent years. One of those groups told your MC host, in a story co-written by Dave, that the Chamber of Commerce’s lobbying gave the bill a big push. The Financial Services Roundtable countered that civil liberties groups never succeeded in their argument that CISA was a big threat to privacy. Meanwhile, one expert noted that the drip-drip of stories about major hacks convinced senators that they needed to act on something. That said, no one is behaving as if the fight on the Senate vote is a foregone conclusion, and one group opposing CISA noted that there’s still a long way for the bill to go before it gets to the president’s desk.

COTTON NEEDLES WHITE HOUSE The administration has indicated it doesn’t like Sen. Tom Cotton’s CISA amendment to allow the FBI and Secret Service to serve as info sharing portals with DHS, so Cotton’s office delighted Monday in this National Security Council tweet: “If you are a victim of a major cyber incident, a call to @FBI, @SecretService, or @DHSgov is a call to all.” Cotton’s office issued a news release headlined, “White House Tweets Endorsement of Cotton CISA Amendment.” A senior official confirmed to MC that the administration is “strongly opposed to any amendment that would provide additional liability protected information sharing channels [and believes] victims of cyber incidents should contact law enforcement.”

FACEBOOK REJECTS ACCUSATIONS Fight for the Future alleged Monday that Facebook secretly lobbied in favor of CISA, and that accusation got a boost from Edward Snowden, who called Facebook “shameful” on Twitter. But Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth told MC that “we have not advocated publicly or privately for CISA.” She added: “We are not taking a position on the bill.”

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