Chairman McCaul Opening Statement at Markup of Legislation to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Attack

Feb 5, 2014 Issues: Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) gave the following opening statement at a Committee markup of H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection (NCCIP) Act of 2013.

Chairman McCaul: “This bill represents over a year of work and more than 300 meetings with experts and stakeholders, including the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, government agencies, academics and privacy advocates. We went through several drafts and countless hours of negotiations but I’m proud to say the final product is, as our friends at the ACLU have called it, “both pro-security and pro-privacy.”

The cyber threat is real and it is happening right now. Iranian hackers, for example, have repeatedly attacked the American financial services sector and even erased critical files on about 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco. A recent poll conducted by Defense News revealed that our nation’s top security analysts see cyber attacks as the greatest threat to our nation. In fact, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just testified last week, "Critical infrastructure, particularly the… systems used in water management, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power distribution, and mass transit, provides an enticing target to malicious actors.” While high profile retail breaches like the one at Target resonate with the public, a successful cyber attack on our critical infrastructure could cause much more damage in terms of lives and monetary damage. 

The National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act addresses this threat by giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the tools to secure our nation in cyberspace, without burdensome mandates or regulations. Specifically, it establishes an equal partnership between DHS and the private sector and requires the Department to recognize industry efforts to facilitate critical infrastructure protection and incident response. The bill strengthens DHS’s civilian, transparent interface to allow real-time cyber threat sharing across the critical infrastructure sectors. Importantly, the bill puts a civilian agency with the nation’s most robust privacy office in charge of preventing personal information from getting inadvertently caught in the net. 

In fact, advocates for national security, privacy and industry have all endorsed this bill. At this time I would like to enter into the record letters of support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the technology sector, AT&T, Boeing, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), members of the energy sector, the GridWise Alliance, the financial services sector, the National Defense Industrial Association, Oracle, Entergy, Pepco, and the Professional Services Council. I ask the members of the Committee to support this important legislation to, at the end of the day, protect our critical infrastructures from one of the greatest threats that we face in today’s world from a national security standpoint.”

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A one-pager explaining the bill can be found HERE, and letters of support for the bill can be found HERE.