House Homeland Security Subcommittee Passes Cybersecurity Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, chaired by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), unanimously passed, by voice vote, bipartisan cybersecurity legislation, the Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act of 2011 (The PrECISE Act), H.R. 3674

H.R. 3674 was introduced by Lungren in December, along with Chairman Peter T. King (R-NY) and nine other Members.  The bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity functions, outlining its roles and responsibilities.

Lungren said: “The nation’s top government, intelligence, and military leaders often mention the cyberthreat as the issue that worries them most.  A successful cyberattack on our critical infrastructure could cripple our economy and threaten our national security.  The Federal government must enable and facilitate the private sector’s efforts to thwart cyberattacks by providing them with threat information, standards and best practices.   We have heard from so many organizations that too many of our current information-sharing arrangements are ineffective.  The PrECISE Act, in line with the Speaker’s Cybersecurity Task Force led by Rep. Thornberry, will ensure that critical infrastructure owners and operators are in the strongest position to protect their critical infrastructure.”

The PrECISE Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate cybersecurity activities across the Federal government, publish a cybersecurity strategy, and provide appropriate reports to Congress.  Specifically, the PrECISE Act:

·         Requires DHS to identify cybersecurity risks on a sector-by-sector basis and to collect existing performance standards to determine the best and most efficient methods to mitigate identified risks;

·         Establishes the National Information Sharing Organization (NISO), a private-sector-controlled not-for-profit organization to facilitate best practices, provide technical assistance, and enable the sharing of cyberthreat information across critical infrastructure and with the Federal government; and

·         Provides for the continuous protection of personally identifiable information, privacy, and civil liberties.

During consideration of the bill, the Subcommittee adopted a number of amendments, including: 

·         Amendments offered by Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) to expand a currently existing international information sharing program to include Cybersecurity; to require the DHS Secretary to share cyberthreat information with other members of the cybersecurity community in addition to owners and operators of critical infrastructure; and to specify that the NISO submit an annual activity report to Congress to facilitate robust oversight;

·         Amendments offered by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX) to require the DHS Secretary to report to Congress which foreign entities, including foreign terrorist organizations, pose the most significant cybersecurity threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure and to limit the power of regulatory agencies by requiring any gap-filling regulations to utilize already recognized standards collected by DHS under this bill;

·         An amendment offered by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) to eliminate unnecessary or conflicting regulations by requiring agencies with current critical infrastructure protection regulations to review them against DHS-identifed risks, identify gaps and eliminate redundancies.

In addition to Lungren and King, H.R. 3674 is co-sponsored by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), and Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), all Members of the Committee on Homeland Security, as well as Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI).

H.R. 3674, as amended, will be sent to the Full Committee. 

For more information on today’s markup, including roll call votes, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website