security - Yuri Samoilov

Retailers Urge Senate to Pass Cyber Intelligence Sharing Bill

August 5, 2015         By: Ryan Kennedy

Multiple retail associations have sent a letter of support for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) and urged the Senate to “act without delay” to help stave off cyber threats facing retailers across the nation. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), and the National Retail Federation (NRF) jointly drafted the letter and addressed it to both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The letter called for immediate deliberation and bipartisan action on the cyber security bill introduced last year. Although some groups have scrutinized CISA as a massive expansion of Federal power, the retailer groups cited the bills ability to “improve the overall cyber hygiene and data security practices of business nationwide”.

The letter also noted the difficulty that many retailers face when dealing with hackers and cyber-attacks.

The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Richard Burr and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in July 2014 and reintroduced in March 2015. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) later introduced an additional amendment, dubbed the “Cotton Amendment”, which would grant liability protection for electronic sharing of threat indicators with the FBI and Secret Service outside of the DHS portal.

“The Cotton Amendment similarly would allow companies to be protected when sharing narrowly defined cyber threat indicators with law enforcement without altering sound privacy protective compromises that have been made to limit sharing with the national security apparatus. We call on the Senate to adopt this common sense fix to CISA to improve the bill and strengthen America’s cybersecurity posture,” said Nicholas Ahrens, vice president of privacy and cybersecurity for RILA.

The letter went into detail about the challenges facing retailers. Among the challenges were costly frivolous lawsuits, which have increased proportionally with Internet access worldwide. The letter also noted that the Cotton Amendment would improve the real time sharing capabilities between retailers and government agencies.

“Our associations are deeply committed to working with you and your colleagues to pass CISA and the Cotton Amendment in order to strengthen our cyber defense and give companies the legal protections they need.  Cyber-attacks are not going away and we urge the Senate to act without delay,” the letter concluded.