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July 28 — The House passed legislation to clarify the Department of Homeland Security's role in combatting cyberthreats facing the nation's banking system, energy pipelines, telecommunication networks and other U.S. “critical infrastructure.”
The bipartisan House bill (H.R. 3696), passed by voice vote, would codify the DHS National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) as an entity charged with facilitating real-time cyberthreat information sharing.
“I hope our colleagues on the Senate side will respond to this,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the bill's chief sponsor, said in floor remarks.
The 9/11 Commission urged Congress to act on cybersecurity in a recent report, warning that U.S. efforts to prepare for a major attack on vital public or private computer networks have not kept pace with mounting threats.
So far, it remains unclear when or if the Senate will vote on cybersecurity bills recently advanced by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“If there are votes, they will likely happen after the November elections,” Brian Finch, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, told Bloomberg BNA.
The House-passed measure, dubbed the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, includes language to make clear that nothing in the legislation is intended to provide DHS with any new regulatory authority. Another provision would amend the 2002 Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act to allow companies to obtain new liability protections in the area of cybersecurity.
“Time is tight on the legislative calendar in the 113th Congress, but there's still time to get this bill and others enacted this year,” Norma Krayem, global co-chair of data protection and cybersecurity at Squire Patton Boggs LLP, told Bloomberg BNA.
Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation (S. 2588) to provide liability protection to companies that share cyberthreat data with the government. The bill has strong support from leading business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, the outlook for the measure has been complicated by privacy concerns.
Legislation (S. 2519) approved in June by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to codify the NCCIC is also still awaiting action by the full Senate.
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Full text of H.R. 3696 can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr3696rh/pdf/BILLS-113hr3696rh.pdf.
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