The appropriate course for Congress to take remains unclear, regardless of your political perspective. The right wing, in the form of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shot down the Lieberman/Collins bill, citing onerous regulation, an expansion of government and interference with the open market. But in a classic case of odd bedfellows, the left wing, in the person of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also had issues with the cyber security bill, as it called for private industry and government to share potentially private information about US citizens, thus impinging on the civil rights of Americans.
As Franken eloquently puts it, "Once a company gives the government cyber threat information, the government shouldn't be able to say, 'Hey, this email doesn't have a virus. But it does say that Michael is late on his taxes. I'm going to send that to the IRS.'"
Both sides present valid points. While appropriate, balanced regulation might be efficacious, and no one wants to see layers of expensive governmental bureaucracy or unnecessary interference with day-to-day commerce. No one wants to give up civil rights to improve security, either, especially when there's no guarantee we will truly become more secure for having made such a deal with the devil.
While Republicans intend for SECURE IT to address the flaws of the Lieberman/Collins cyber security bill, it's not clear whether the new bill will solve more problems than it causes. It goes out of its way to avoid introducing any new regulations that might be burdensome on the private sector and calls for no new regulatory authority-good for the private sector, perhaps, but at the risk of being toothless. As Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) puts it, "I have no faith that federal regulators should take the lead on cyber security. The regulatory process simply cannot keep up with the rapid pace of technology."
If federal regulators shouldn't take the lead on cyber security, then who should? The private sector-but only by voluntarily sharing classified information, not through regulation, the argument goes. Instead of relying on the government to address cyber threats, SECURE IT lowers the liability that private sector companies would face, should they share information about potential threats with the government. This has the potential to lead to civil rights abuses, although the bill's sponsors promise that won't happen.