We’re still waiting for any actual evidence that this new cybersecurity bill is really necessary. An actual description of the real problem being dealt with would be a good start. Instead, we just get pure fear mongering. While some Senators are asking supporters of the bill to slow down and carefully consider the issue, the bill’s backers, led by Senator Lieberman seem to be on “full speed ahead” mode — trying to skip hearings and markups to take the bill straight to the Senate floor for a vote.
In this case, Senator John McCain is urging caution, and pushing back at claims that because totally different cybersecurity bills have been introduced in the past, this one can be rushed:
To suggest that this bill should move directly to the Senate Floor because it has ‘been around’ since 2009 is outrageous,” McCain said. “First, the bill was introduced two days ago. Secondly, where do Senate Rules state that a bill’s progress in a previous congress can supplant the necessary work on that bill in the present one?”
Of course, it isn’t that McCain is “the voice of reason” here. He’s actually pushing for a different bill that will give NSA broad spying powers over the internet. The dispute between McCain and Lieberman is really a long-running territorial dispute — concerning whether Homeland Security or the Defense Department get to control the “cybersecurity” budget. The Lieberman bill gives the power to Homeland Security. McCain wants to give it to the DoD. Neither seem to want to bother with evidence of the actual need here.
Of course, backers of the bill are falling back on their typical doomsday scenarios to explain why they have to rush and avoid any sort of discussion or evidence:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned the committee there could be grave consequences if Congress does not act to protect cybersecurity.
“Think about how many people could die if a cyber terrorist attacked our air traffic control system and planes slammed into one another,” Rockefeller said. “Or if rail switching networks were hacked—causing trains carrying people—or hazardous materials—to derail and collide in the midst of some of our most populated urban areas, like Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Washington.”
Yes, and think about how life would suck if someone hacked the road system in West Virginia and turned all roads into cabbage patches? I mean, if we’re talking about total hypotheticals with no actual likelihood of happening, that seems just as reasonable a scenario as Rockefeller’s. It’s pure, insane, unsupported hypothetical fear mongering. Is our air traffic system connected to the internet? I sure hope not. If it is, that’s the problem — not the lack of some cybersecurity bill. We’ve seen no evidence that the air traffic or rail switching are subject to attack, so creating Hollywood-style scenarios is pretty ridiculous. Is Rockefeller honestly suggesting that the folks who run these systems aren’t doing everything they can to secure those systems and that there would be any significant differences if this cybersecurity bill is passed? Somehow I don’t think the folks who maintain our air traffic control system are sitting around thinking there’s nothing they can do until a cybersecurity bill is in place.
So how about we take a step back, and rather than passing a broad bill based on fear mongering, folks like Rockefeller and Feinstein (hell, or even McCain) produce some actual evidence of a threat? Or is that too hard?