The U.S. House of representatives have unofficially designated this week as "Cybersecurity Week".
The House Republican Leadership has taken it upon themselves to commit to focusing on a select number of bills out of dozens that address security for information systems.
"The focus of these bills is consistent with the recommendations released by the task force last October that address the central issue the federal government and industry have stated must be addressed now: updating existing cybersecurity laws to provide the legal authorities to allow for information-sharing and public-private partnerships," a joint statement from Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and the House GOP’s Cybersecurity Task Force Leader Thornberry said.
The House Republicans echoed the sentiments expressed by their Democrat counterparts and numerous industry experts which call for the passage of legislation that will further protect the digital systems that are critical to every aspect of the nation's security and economic prosperity.
"Information-sharing is crucial to stopping the persistent and aggressive threat facing all aspects of our economy, our critical infrastructure, our communications, and our nation’s security," the statement continued.
According to Homeland Security Watch, the bills that will be considered this week in the House include the following:
- Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523) – A Mike Rogers (R-MI)/Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) bill coming out of the Intelligence Committee. The bill would allow the government to provide classified information to companies to allow them to to protect their networks. The bill also authorizes private-sector entities to defend their own networks and to those of their customers, and to share cyber threat information with others in the private sector, as well as with the federal government on a purely voluntary basis. This bill, which many consider the lynchpin of the House efforts, has garnered significant criticism from the privacy and civil liberties groups. These interests have equated the bill to the doomed SOPA/PIPA bills, stating that it violates Constitutional rights. The sponsors made significant changes last week to try to address the privacy concerns but still have met criticism. Just last Friday, House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) sent around a Dear Colleague stating that the bill “would create a “Wild West” of cyber information sharing, where any certified private entity can share information with any government agency.” Despite these criticisms, the bill has garnered the support of numerous companies and technology groups.
- Federal Information Security Amendments (H.R. 4257) – Introduced by Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, this bill tackles the mess that is the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). It improves the framework for securing information technology systems, focusing on “automated and continuous” monitoring and dictates that OMB should play a significant role in FISMA compliance. The bill is relatively uncontroversial, as most agree that FISMA needs fixing.
- Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (H.R. 2096) – Another uncontroversial bill is Rep. Mike McCaul’s (R-TX) legislation tackles cyber R&D. It strengthens NSF and NIST technical standards and cybersecurity awareness, education and talent development capabilities.
- Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Act (H.R. 3834) - Introduced by Science, Space & Technology Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), this bill reauthorizes the NITRD program, including its efforts relating to cyber R&D. This is another bill that is uncontroversial.
Also on the House agenda this week are the following information security related sessions in which numerous experts from both the public and private sector are expected to testify:
- Apr 24, 2012: Subcommittee Hearing: America is Under Cyber Attack: Why Urgent Action is Needed
- Apr 26, 2012: Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Iranian Cyber Threat to the U.S. Homeland