Alternative IT security law proposed in Senate

As the debate continues over various proposed federal IT security laws, a new bill has been introduced that’s being labeled a compromise between different proposals. 

The bill that’s been endorsed by the White House is the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, introduced by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). However, it has come under fire from some business and privacy advocates who say the law would give the government too much control over private companies.

If passed, the IT security law would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify computer networks that could cause casualties or severe economic damage if attacked. The agency would set security regulations for companies operating those networks and penalize companies that can’t show they’re secure.

Critics have argued that would significantly increase businesses’ operating costs and give the DHS too much power to decide what organizations are covered by the regulations.

In response to that and other proposed IT security laws, a group of Republicans introduced the Secure IT Act, which would not include new rules for private companies, but instead encourage the sharing of information between organizations and the government and increase penalties for cybercrimes.

Of course, that proposal has gotten criticism from those who say it doesn’t go far enough.

Now, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have drafted a bill they hope will serve a compromise between the two sides.

That proposal would encourage — rather than force — companies to meet security standards by offering liability protections and advantages in receiving government funding for organizations that meet security goals.

Currently, the proposal only exists as a six-page draft that is not written in legislative language. However, it has received positive feedback from some supporters of the Lieberman-Collins bill, The Hill reports.

We’ll keep you posted about this and other proposed IT security laws as they wind their way through Congress.