June 01, 2015

ABA offers perspective on cybersecurity reform

The ABA offered Senate leaders the ABA’s perspective on comprehensive cybersecurity reform this month and provided five guiding principles for members of Congress to consider as they develop cybersecurity legislation. 

“The ABA has long recognized that we must make it a priority to prevent unauthorized intrusions into the computer systems and networks utilized by lawyers and law firms, and we recently adopted policy calling upon all private sector organizations to maintain appropriate cybersecurity measures,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote June 1 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The ABA principles recognize that:

•public and private frameworks are essential to successfully protect United States assets, infrastructure and economic interests from cyber attacks;

•robust information sharing and collaboration is needed between government agencies and private industry to manage global cyber risks;

•legal and policy environments must be modernized to stay ahead of, or at least keep pace with, technological advancement;

•privacy and civil liberties must remain a priority when developing cybersecurity law and policy; and

•training, education and workforce development of government and corporate leadership, technical operators and lawyers requires adequate investment and resources in cybersecurity to be successful.

Cybersecurity legislation moving through Congress this year focuses on information sharing among private entities and between those entities and the federal government. In April, the House passed two bills, H.R. 1560 and H.R. 1731, and the Senate Intelligence Committee approved S. 754.

While the bills include different approaches to sharing and protecting information, they all have provisions limiting the use of shared information to cybersecurity and law enforcement purposes and shielding information shared with the federal government from public disclosure to protect privacy and civil liberties. In addition, all of the bills would require reports to Congress on the impact of the legislation.

Although the House bills passed by substantial margins, S. 754 became the center of controversy when the bill was offered as an amendment on the Senate floor to H.R. 1735, the annual defense authorization bill.

Opposition from Democrats led to a 56-40 vote against invoking cloture on the amendment, and it was withdrawn from consideration. The Senate bill is expected to be considered separately on the floor at a later date.  

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