Michael Seeds: Behind-the-scenes cyber advocate

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Michael Seeds, legislative director for Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), contributed to a cybersecurity report that went on to influence the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). (Stock image)

As legislative director for Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Michael Seeds has the job of helping call attention to the growing threats to government and private networks.

Thornberry’s portfolio includes the vice chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee; the top spot on the Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee; and a seat on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. So Seed's cyber-knowledge is in frequent demand.

Seeds has helped build cybersecurity awareness as a key contributor to the 2011 report issued by the House Republican Cybersecurity Task Force, which Thornberry led. The group’s recommendations on information sharing, critical infrastructure protection and incident reporting were included in the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which has passed twice in the House, most recently in April.

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The formal, cross-committee task force has ended, but Thornberry and Seeds are still actively pressing the case for cybersecurity legislation behind the scenes. With four measures recently passed in the House -- including CISPA, an update to the Federal Information Security Amendments Act and two workforce-related bills -- the action has moved to the Senate. Although things have been quiet, Seeds said President Barack Obama’s executive order on cybersecurity, released in February, could bring a “different dynamic” to what the Senate is able to produce legislatively.

Seeds told FCW that Thornberry’s mastery of technical details makes him easy to work with, and across Congress, he increasingly finds that lawmakers are knowledgeable about the growing threats to the nation’s government and private networks.

"They might not be aware of all the in-the-weeds details, but overall, at the 50,000-foot level, there’s a greater awareness," he said.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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