As predicted, a group of leading Senate Republicans (McCain, Hutchison, Grassley, Chambliss, Murkowski and Coats) have introduced an alternative cybersecurity bill that will be in direct competition with the Lieberman-Collins proposal. Styled as a complete substitute and alternative, the McCain bill is reported to differ from the Lieberman-Collins proposal in three significant ways:
- It has no regulatory provisions at all — in effect challenging the Lieberman-Collins conclusion that a new regulatory structure is needed;
- It has a much less directive approach to information sharing that is likely to cause some consternation in privacy and civil liberties circles; and
- Unlike the Collins-Lieberman bill, the McCain bill contains a title with enhanced criminal penalties for cyber crimes.
The stage is now set for an extended discussion on the floor of the Senate regarding the merits of these two competing proposals. It is indeed plausible that neither will garner the 60 votes needed for passage — but only time will tell.
When the text of the McCain bill is available I’ll have more in-depth analysis of its provisions.