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A group of Republican senators rejected the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2012 that would give the Department of Homeland Security authority over private networks critical to the country’s security, but offered an alternative in the form of the SECURE IT Act.

The SECURE IT Act (which stands for Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act) would ask companies to voluntarily share and receive threat data through cybersecurity centers in the government. The companies then would receive incentives such as protection from privacy lawsuits and exempted data exchanged from public disclosure requirements.

“This proposal would leverage the expertise of the private sector …. [to help] the nation’s most critical infrastructure [systems] adopt the cybersecurity practices, technologies, and performance standards that work best on their networks,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

The SECURE IT bill is co-sponsored by vocal opponents to the Cybersecurity Act, Senators John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Chuck Grassley, Saxby Chambliss, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Coats, Ron Johnson and Richard Burr.

“Now is not the time for Congress to be adding more government, more regulation, and more debt — especially when it is far from clear that any of it will enhance our security,” Chambliss said. “Our bill offers the right solution to improving our nation’s cybersecurity by encouraging collaboration, investment, and innovation.”

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, Ranking Member Susan Collins, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 last month.

“We are encouraged by our colleagues’ recognition that we must act to address the increasingly sophisticated and dangerous attacks on our national infrastructure,” they said. “We can no longer delay action on deciding how to deal with this critical issue, and we are eager to work with them to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the Senate floor as soon as possible.”