Tuesday, 4 September 2012

That Was Close?

US Senate Killed Cybersecurity Act

A few days ago the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 reached the US Senate. Apparently, the bill didn’t pass, making activists and privacy rights supporters happy.
The supporters of the bill were urging the Senate to pass the law as national security, but their wish didn’t come true. Before this failure, the media reports said that the risks to the US were real and immediate, adding that the White House didn’t see the bill as a partisan issue, but more as a matter of national security.

If passed, the act would give the authorities the legislative elements it needed to tackle hacker attacks: data sharing between the government and the industry, better protection of critical infrastructure, and the right to unite federal resources to lead the cybersecurity team. The proposed legislation was supposed to enable the authorities to prevent the attacks, not only respond to them. But the American Senate dismissed the bill from the very beginning.

Republicans who opposed to the law claimed that the proposed cybersecurity standards would have allowed for too much government regulation. When the legislation was passing through the Senate, one of its articles cause the panic, because Internet service providers could have been able to block such tunneling services as TOR and VPNs.

In the meantime, the bill’s opponents asked citizens to contact their representatives and talk about their civil rights and how the legislation may affect them. After getting about 500,000 responses, the senators decided to prioritize the privacy rights of the users.

So, the bill failed to achieve cloture, which means it won’t proceed to a final vote. In the past months, members of the civil liberties and online freedom outfits had sent over half a million emails to the Senate urging the legislators to stand up for online freedom and privacy when discussing cyber-security bills. The matter is that the privacy activists were concerned about potential for the bill to allow ISPs to monitor their subscribers’ data. They pointed out that there was a newly empowered base of online activists across the country, and alongside them stood a newly-strengthened corps of pro-privacy senators whom they looked forward to working with to fight any future online attacks.

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