The House of Representatives next week will consider legislation to counter online threats as part of what the House leadership has dubbed “Cybersecurity Week.”
The House Homeland Security Committee approved the PRECISE Act on Wednesday. The committee adopted an amendment from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Cal.), to remove provisions that would have required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with other federal agencies to incorporate cybersecurity standards into regulations governing covered critical infrastructure. The amended bill, H.R. 3674, would expand the existing National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center within DHS to facilitate the sharing of threat information and technical assistance between private entities and governments at all levels. The bill would create an advisory board of 13 private-sector representatives for the Center.
The House also plans to vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill introduced in late November by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). Like the PRECISE Act, CISPA would encourage the sharing of cyber threat information among businesses and the intelligence community through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center within DHS.
CISPA, H.R. 3523, also would immunize non-federal entities that share such information from civil or criminal liability. The current discussion draft would allow lawsuits against federal agencies that violate the bill’s restrictions on how voluntarily provided cyber threat information can be used by the federal government. Among other restrictions, the federal government may not use such information for a “regulatory purpose,” and may only use such information when a “significant purpose” of the use is cybersecurity or the protection of national security.
Two competing cybersecurity bills are pending in the Senate: the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), and the SECURE IT Act, introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Cal.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced companion legislation to the SECURE IT Act in the House.