Senate bill targets countries where cyberattacks against U.S. interests originate

Measure includes penalties for countries that don't cooperate

Countries that don’t cooperate with the United States in cracking down on cyber crimes against U.S. interests would risk losing U.S. assistance under a new bill introduced in the Senate

The International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act, introduced on March 23 by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would require a presidential administration to identify countries where cyber crime against U.S. interests originates and those countries that don’t crack down on it, according to a summary of the bill released by Gillibrand's office.

Under the measure, the U.S. would require countries that are identified as being of “cyber concern” to collaborate with the administration to come up with a plan to fix problems and reach agreed upon benchmarks, according to a summary of the bill. Failure to meet goals could lead to the suspension of U.S. foreign assistance including export/import financing, preferential trade programs, or new foreign assistance, the summary said.

The legislation would streamline the State Department’s approach to international cybersecurity efforts. State would have to designate a senior official as the point person for coordinating U.S. government activities and policies to combat cyber crime internationally under.

The proposal comes at a time when lawmakers are increasingly focused on computer crime that costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars annually. Many of those attacks are believed to originate outside the United States, particularly in countries without laws against cyber crime or that don’t enforce those laws.

The Government Accountability Office estimated in 2005 that U.S. businesses lost $67.2 billion because of cyberattacks; since then attacks have dramatically increased, Gillibrand’s office said. Recently policymakers have been focused on attacks against Google and other companies allegedly originating in China.

James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he liked the legislation's call for provisions to assist countries to boost cybersecurity and for consequences for ones that don’t.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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