August 4, 2012. Washington. Like a number of Congressional Bills before it, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was defeated this week by a narrow margin. Democrats left President Obama and Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) to vote with the Republicans to block the Act in the Democrat-controlled chamber. This marked the second time in recent weeks where Democrats crossed the aisle to aid Republicans taking a libertarian stand.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) led the rebellion against President Obama and Democratic leaders.
One of the fiercest groups fighting for the defeat of the Cybersecurity Act was Campaign for Liberty. In a celebratory email sent out to supporters, C4L Vice President Matt Hawes announced, “Thanks to your efforts and those of thousands of liberty activists across the country, by a vote of 52 – 46, the Senate defeated Senator Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012 – for now.”
Hawes went on to warn, “Unfortunately, bad legislation frequently shares a trait with Hollywood movie villain Freddy Krueger. No matter how many times you kill it, it just keeps coming back.”
White House threatens Executive Order
Responding to the Senate defeat of the Cybersecurity Act, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama has not ruled out using the power of his Executive Order to take the drastic measures Democrats feel necessary to protect the American people from internet predators and attacks.
As quoted in a report in The Hill, Carney reaffirmed, “In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed.”
In an extremely rare occurrence, Democrats and the President were the ones supporting a Bill that was sponsored by an independent and a Republican, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-VT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Enough skeptical Democratic Senators however, joined most Republicans in a bipartisan effort to stop the national security legislation. Critics argued the Bill went too far in protecting America from cyber attacks. Instead, many said it was a domestic spy program in disguise.
Opposition to the Bill
The Cybersecurity Act had a number of critics and reasons for concern. Most noted among them was an item that was amended. Instead of having America’s corporations turning over private communications of American citizens to the NSA, the revised Bill provided for a civilian agency to handle the information, not the US military. But it still wasn’t enough.
As detailed in a report by Forbes published before the Senate vote, the online magazine warned readers that the Act overstepped its intended purpose – protecting America from Cyber threats. The account quotes Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), one of the Bill’s chief opponents, “It should not be a back door for warrantless wiretaps for information entirely unrelated to cyberattacks.” The Minnesota Senator went on to give a specific example, “In other words, once a company gives the government cyberthreat information, the government shouldn’t be able to say, ‘Hey, this email doesn’t have a virus. But it does say Michael is late on his taxes. I’m going to send that to the IRS.”
Critics fear the federal government would use the Cybersecurity Act’s broad powers to police for any and all crimes. Others fear that while authorities are distracted by using the new powers to chase illegal immigrants, marijuana smokers and a host of others, actual cyber security threats would take a back seat in importance.
This isn’t the first time Democrats have crossed the aisle to join Republicans in a populist-libertarian stand against the White House. It was only two weeks ago that House Democrats joined House Republicans in passing Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s pet legislation – Audit the FED. Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Audit the Fed Bill overwhelmingly passes the House’ for details.
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