Technology giants torn on possible cybersecurity legislation
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Technology giants torn on possible cybersecurity legislation

Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing concerns of any company. From a small mom and pop operation to a large, international conglomerate, firms must take action to prevent hackers from infiltrating their systems.

As such, many lawmakers have decided to become part of the debate. Recently, the United States Senate drafted a bill that would federally regulate cybersecurity measures. The legislation is set to be voted on within the coming week.

Bill provides for infrastructure protections

The recently revised Cybersecurity Act of 2012 may be put in place relatively soon, depending on the vote. One of the main sponsors, Senator Joseph Lieberman, explained that the law does not seek to govern businesses, only criminals involved in cyber attacks, the Washington Post detailed. If aimed at certain infrastructural institutions, such as utilities operators, a cyberattack could present issues of national security concerns.

The Washington Post reported that the recent revisions were made in an effort to bolster more support from both conservatives and industry leaders. Among the clauses taken out, the newspaper reported, was one requiring private companies to take security measures, instead leaving adoption voluntary.

"On balance, we think that voluntary standards will still enable us to make meaningful improvements in cybersecurity," White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel told reporters.

Microsoft, others provide support

Many of the nation's most respected experts in a variety of technology disciplines have pledged support for the revised bill. The Hill reported Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, EMC and CA Technologies have all issued statements in favor of the proposed legislation.

The law seeks to provide "an appropriate framework to improve the security of government and critical infrastructure systems to address current threats," read the Microsoft-backed letter, crafted by the company's vice president of government affairs Fred Humphries, according to The Hill. 

The source said Oracle and Cisco developed a joint statement, backing up Microsoft's sentiments. Their letter claimed that government involvement represents dedication to ensuring that the technology community would be allowed to influence innovation in the face of cyber threats.

Consensus remains elusive

However, not all tech giants agree that the legislation would help. A separate article from The Hill claimed that IBM has come out in vehement opposition to the bill and is being joined by advocacy group TechAmerica in their fight.

IBM representatives also shared their views in letter form, the source said. While the company did not say they are against security laws on the whole, they believe Lieberman's bill, as it stands, is flawed. The source said the incentives provided to infrastructure managers that comply with the regulations would serve to spur a regulation scheme, and would eventually become absolutely mandatory – a concern that was also shared by TechAmerica leaders.

According to The Hill, IBM worries that the passage of the bill would serve to greatly restrict information sharing, including data about potential cyberthreats, which could be a detriment to companies under attack.

What the bill means for the future

If passed, many believe the legislation would make the nation's defenses much stronger. According to MSNBC, the bill would make the nation's infrastructure, from power plants to water supply companies nearly impenetrable by cybercriminals.

The CEO of software security company Metaforic, Dan Stickel, told the source that the potential law would set up a government database of security information that could not only be sued to protect a business, but research what threats are out there and are attempting to infiltrate other companies.

MSNBC indicated, the government would be given more power to monitor the online behaviors of normal citizens, though the majority of the push is for those looking at websites involved with the infrastructure companies.