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Microsoft Supports, Congress Debates Cybersecurity Act

Local computer giant, Microsoft, has recently publicly announced its support of a federal bill designed to combat cybercrime by increasing cooperation between companies and the government to enforce laws and investigate cybercrimes.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414) is currently weaving its way through Congress. President Obama recently released an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in support of the goals of  the Cybersecurity Act. The bill provides for a private, industry-goverment collaboration on setting cybersecurity standards, and the sharing of cyber threat information among critical infrastructure providers and the government, including liability immunity from suits related to breaches and attacks.

Obama wrote, “We need to make it easier for the government to share threat information so critical-infrastructure companies are better prepared. We need to make it easier for these companies—with reasonable liability protection—to share data and information with government when they’re attacked. And we need to make it easier for government, if asked, to help these companies prevent and recover from attacks.”

Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s VP of Government Affairs, publicly supported the bill, stating that “Microsoft supports Congress’ efforts to advance risk management practices…and enhance appropriate information sharing about cyber-threats.” Humphries also noted that the new bill will help improve online security while maintaining certain liberties and privacy rights.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital privacy rights group, has argued that the Cybersecurity Act’s vague language is too broad and could ultimately be used to block privacy protection software.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has introduced an amendment that would eliminate a provision that allows third parties to monitor content on a company’s system. The EFF agrees with the proposed amendment, but even with the proposed amendment the EFF opposes the bill.

Late Tuesday, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked cloture to move to consideration of the relevant amendments. It appears, at least for the time being, that a reasonable compromise will not be reached. The cloture vote  is set for tomorrow, as both sides continue the debate over the Cybersecurity Act today.

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Gavin Johnson

Gavin enjoys craft beer and is learning the art of brewing.


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