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Senate to Take Up Cybersecurity Bill in 2012

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Debate in the Senate over cybersecurity legislation will begin in early 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said late Wednesday..

In a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Reid said the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act will be brought to the floor during the Senate’s first work week of 2012.

“Given the magnitude of the threat and the gaps in the government’s ability to respond, we cannot afford to delay action on this critical legislation,” Reid’s letter said as reported by The Hill. “For that reason, it is my intent to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the Senate floor for consideration during the first Senate work period of next year.”

The latest recorded action on the bill was a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security Committee in May, with the bill having first been read before the committee in February.

Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the bill’s sponsor, and c0-sponsors Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement they are satisfied debate will begin soon and echoed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s foreshadowing on the future of cyber warfare.

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the next Pearl Harbor ‘could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems,'” the lawmakers said.

Panetta’s comments came in June during his confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor.

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