The Hill

Senate resumes cybersecurity push

Jay Rockefeller

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is co-sponsoring a bill to return cybersecurity to Congress' high-priority list. (US Senate photo)

Members of the Senate on Jan. 23 introduced a resolution to return cybersecurity to Congress’ list of legislative priorities, marking the first steps to pass cyber laws since Congress failed to do so in the fall of 2012.

“With information technology now the backbone of the United States economy, a critical element of United States national security infrastructure and defense systems, the primary foundation of global communications, and a key enabler of most critical infrastructure, nearly every single United States citizen is touched by cyberspace and is threatened by cyber attacks,” the bill text reads.

The measure, which had not yet been assigned a bill number, also noted the ongoing and increasing malicious activity in cyberspace, as well as previous governmental recognition of cyber threats and the need for better public-private partnerships as key aspects of the need of legislation.

Called, the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013, the resolution was introduced by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) Other cosponsors include Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Resource

To read the resolution, click here.

“The new Congress has a real opportunity to reach needed consensus on bipartisan legislation that will strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. “Throughout my five years of work on cyber, our military and national security officials and our country’s top business executives have made it abundantly clear that the serious threats to our country grow every day. The private sector and the government must work together to secure the networks that are vital to American businesses and communities. It is a priority this year to act on comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.”

According to the bill text, the lawmakers hope to address cybersecurity by hardening communications and networks; establishing mechanisms for public-private information-sharing and threat detection, assessment and response; promoting investment in research and development and in workforce training; targeting identity theft and protection; and enhancing partnership and cooperation.

The resolution does not delve into some of the more controversial measures that doomed cyber legislation in 2012, such as disputes over whether to incentivize or require private industry – including owners and operators of critical infrastructure – to participate in government security efforts, as well as over privacy concerns. Those debates, among others, are certain to return along with the revived discussion of how to best implement cybersecurity, and Feinstein touched on that impending negotiation.

“The threat of a cyber attack is real, and it is growing,” Feinstein said. “Congress must act soon to improve the government’s ability to share and receive information on cyber attacks and threats with the private sector. Our national and economic security depend on robust information sharing, and I look forward to working with my colleagues again this Congress to develop strong incentives for this practice, coupled with the needed privacy protections.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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