Republican leaders of the House Oversight Committee released a scathing report about the Equifax data breach on Monday morning, detailing a series of security failures that preceded the 2017 compromise of 140 million Americans’ personal information.
A few hours later, committee Democrats released a competing report about the consumer credit reporting agency, lashing out at their Republican colleagues for not demanding new cybersecurity laws to prevent the next major data breach.
The competing reports highlight how cybersecurity, which was once considered a largely bipartisan topic, has been infected by partisan conflict.
The feud also underscores the supreme difficulty of reaching bipartisan consensus in cybersecurity: The fact that the parties can’t even agree on how to properly condemn Equifax makes it seem even less likely that they will be united on how to tackle more complex challenges that have serious political implications, such as election security or protecting the power grid.
Aspects of the cybersecurity debate “are more partisan than they ever were before,” Daniel Schuman, a former congressional staff member who is now the policy director at the liberal advocacy group Demand Progress, told me.
In other ways, though, cybersecurity has always been more partisan than it seemed, Schuman said. That’s especially true when cybersecurity intersects with other issues that can be more partisan — such as how much money the government should spend and how actively it should regulate private industry.
The dueling reports highlight these differences.