President Will Make Personal Pitch for Cybersecurity Legislation

Obama Will Also Talk about Reducing Gun Violence in Meetings with Legislators
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President Barack Obama will talk with House and Senate Republicans and Democrats in four separate meetings over the next three days and stemming gun violence and passing cybersecurity legislation will be among the topics of conversation.

In a briefing with reporters Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that among his priorities will be "efforts to move forward on actions to reduce gun violence" and "the need for Congress to take action on cybersecurity."

The president has already issued an executive order mandating more sharing of government cybersecurity threat info with industry and creating a voluntary cybersecurity best practices regime with input from industry. But the administration has also made it clear that was not a substitute for bipartisan legislation that would deal with such issues as liability for info sharing among industry players and between industry and government.

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last week on implementing the executive order, Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said a "suite" of legislation was needed that would 1) incorporate privacy and civil liberties; 2) create information sharing standards; 3) provide additional tools to fight cybercrime; 4) create a data breach reporting requirement; and 5) give DHS hiring authority equivalent to the National Security Agency.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree there is a growing cyberthreat, but compromise legislation failed to materialize in the last Congress despite that threat and Republicans have reintroduced a bill that focuses on liability and info sharing.

While some Senators at the hearing expressed optimism that compromise legislation could be achieved, the two administration witnesses, Napolitano and Patrick Gallagher of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, agreed that Republican-backed House legislation that dealt primarily with information sharing was not sufficient to address the problem. NSA is charged by the White House with facilitating and providing technical support for the industry-driven cybersecurity framework.

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