Computer vulnerabilities and how they can affect Americans' security are on the agenda for the U.S. Senate, and strong rhetoric is being used to support new legislation.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is expected to move to the Senate floor this week. The bill has the support of President Barack Obama, and it is being sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
"The cyber threat to our nation is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face," Obama wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on July 19.
The president said that foreign adversaries could seek to exploit U.S. computer vulnerabilities, taking down vital banking systems, and that could cause a financial crisis. Similarly, he said, "The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we've seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill."
Lieberman and four other co-sponsors of the cybersecurity bill recently introduced a revised version of the bill that has broader support than the prior version, which privacy advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation said included serious threats to civil liberties.
According to the EFF, major privacy protections added to the new bill ensure that: