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Cybersecurity's Moment Arrives

Congressman James Langevin has made cybersecurity his central concern. And passage of significant legislation looks like it's finally in reach.

House and Senate leaders have indicated that they'll bring bills to the floor sometime in April. In the House, that means a package of three bills, including one that Langevin co-sponsored with Congressman Dan Lungren, a California Republican.

The Senate, meanwhile, is expected to pass a comprehensive bill authored by Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican - though Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, is making a push for a watered-down bill, arguing that the Lieberman-Collins measure would put too much of a burden on industry.

"Senator McCain's bill, quite frankly, misses the point," Langevin told me in an interview this afternoon. "Critical infrastructure is incredibly vulnerable."

One of the biggest cybersecurity concerns is that a terrorist will shut down the power grid, crippling the country's economy. That grid, of course, is controlled by the private sector. And the utilities have been unwilling to invest big money in defending against what it considers an unlikely attack.

The central conflict between Democrats and Republicans has been how much to require of industry. And if legislation passes both houses, that will surely be the central sticking point in conference committee negotiations.

Langevin, though, says he is heartened to see movement in the right direction. The fight for ever-tougher utility regulation - and stiffer requirements for sharing, with government, news of cyber breaches, will be for another day, he says.

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