Senate Subcommittee Evaluates Administration’s Cybersecurity Legislation Proposals

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 – The Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism evaluated the Obama administration’s cyber security legislation proposal with respect to its own proposed cyber security proposals during a hearing Tuesday.

Subcommittee members discussed with executive branch representatives the elements of the administration’s proposals to improve cyber security and individual privacy. Among the topics of the hearing were national data breach standards, the voluntary information sharing proposal and the recommendations for increased criminal penalties against cyber crime committed against critical infrastructure and racketeering.

Executive branch witnesses agreed that updated legislation is needed to meet the administration’s Federal cyber security goals of improving cyber security for Americans, the nation’s critical infrastructure, and the federal government’s own networks and computers.

The audacity of major attacks mounted in May and June by hacker groups has increased pressure on officials to develop adequate policies and legislation that will combat cyber threats from organized crime groups, hacktivists, and foreign governments.

Hacktivist groups – hacker groups with political motivations, such as Anonymous and Lulz Security (or LulzSec) – have gained notoriety in recent weeks after claiming credit for the recent major cyber attacks on Sony, Epsilon, Lockheed Martin, Citibank, Google, government emails, and Most recently, LulzSec released a statement declaring war on private corporations and government agencies.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, reintroduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act in early June. Leahy, who commented in his opening statement on the need for the protections contained in his bill, plans to include the bill on the Committee’s agenda in the coming weeks.

“We simply cannot wait to act on comprehensive cyber security legislation,” said Leahy, “But, we must proceed in a way that is respectful of our privacy rights and civil liberties.”

Chairman of the subcommittee Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) echoed similar sentiments during the hearing.

“I’m worried about the extent of the threat we are facing now and the amount of time that it will take to implement the administrations proposals,” said Whitehouse.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), who testified as a witness before the Senate subcommittee, commented on the educational efforts in his home state to prepare high school students to enter the cyber security workforce.

Langevin also voiced optimism regarding the Administration’s proposals to encourage private companies to share voluntarily cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security.

“This effort, if handled carefully and appropriately, could greatly enhance privacy by stopping malicious intrusions or large data theft efforts, and it is already under consideration by other partner countries as a way to provide a clearer picture of the health of the Internet,” said Langevin.

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