Snowden to Blame for Moribund Cybersecurity Legislation?

By Stew Magnuson
Add former Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden to the list of those who don’t think Congress will pass legislation this year designed to strengthen government-private sector cybersecurity partnerships.
And Hayden believes that Edward Snowden, the leaker of National Security Agency secrets, has a role to play in the moribund Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
“One of the long-term ill effects of Snowden was that it was tough enough for the chairman to get CISPA through when the waters were calm. And now he is trying to do it in white water rapids. And it is not going to happen,” Hayden said at a Washington Post panel discussion on cybersecurity Oct. 3.
“I have faith. I have faith,” Rep. Mike Rodgers, R-Mich., and chair of the House Intelligence Committee interjected, while punctuating his comment with a laugh.
The House passed a version of CISPA earlier this year co-sponsored by Rodgers and sent it to the Senate after it passed the House by a wide margin. Rodgers, at a separate event last week, blamed the Senate for not taking action. The bill died in the Senate last year over privacy concerns. That was long before Snowden leaked documents revealing NSA programs that have touched the lives of U.S. citizens, creating a firestorm of controversy.
“I think we have lost a whole congressional cycle in getting our government more forward leaning,” said Hayden, who also led the NSA.
There have been several announcements by various lawmakers throughout the year that CISPA in 2013 is dead. However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said in late September she is working on a draft bill to complement the House version, according to The Hill newspaper.
Organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union have voiced concerns that the bill would allow companies to share citizens' personal information with agencies such as the NSA.
Advocates say the law is needed so the private sector and the government can share intelligence about cyberthreats with each other. President Barack Obama Feb. 13 signed an executive order, which was designed to strengthen the nation’s collective ability to thwart cyber-attacks and guard against cyber-espionage. However, legislation is needed to set up a robust information-sharing regime, administration representatives have said.

Topics: Cyber, Cybersecurity

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