Capital Thinking: Cybersecurity


Legislative Activity

Cybersecurity Legislation

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Committee plans to move forward on its cybersecurity bill this week, with plans to follow-up in full committee in the near future. H.R. 3696, the “National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2013” is a bipartisan bill designed to address more comprehensive cybersecurity issues and to codify existing U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cyber efforts with critical infrastructure.  This move represents the long-awaited effort by the Committee to address broader cyber concerns by the Committee.

Data Security Legislation

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) announced they would each reintroduce data security legislation in the wake of the Target Corporation cybersecurity breach, which recent reports say has affected 70 million people.  Senator Leahy reintroduced “The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act,” a bill focused on protecting Americans’ personal information and privacy. At the same time, Senator Carper plans to reintroduce legislation that would create a national reporting standard for data breaches, similar to the Target breach, that could apply to both financial institutions and retailers.  The recent admission by Neiman Marcus that they have also suffered a data breach will provide increased reinforcement for the need for the legislation this session. Both pieces of legislation have been offered as amendments to previous comprehensive cybersecurity bills, however these bills could move as stand-alone bills this session, which could make action somewhat easier.  The Senate Banking Committee has also announced plans to hold a hearing on the Target cyber breach as well.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, January 15: The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing at 10:00 am examining the spread of al Qaeda abroad, the Administration’s evaluation of the threat, and the impact on homeland security efforts.
  • Wednesday, January 15: The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing at 2:00 pm to mark-up H.R. 3696, the “National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2013.” 
  • Wednesday, January 15: At 2:30 pm, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing entitled “The Future of Unmanned Aviation in the U.S. Economy: Safety and Privacy Considerations.”

Executive Branch Activity

NIST Cybersecurity Framework

Several administration officials weighed in last week, on the development of the final cybersecurity framework.  White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Michael Daniel specifically commented on the program’s process and believes “the program won’t spring forth fully developed, but it will be operational right around the time the final framework finally comes out.”  In addition, Suzanne Spaulding, the deputy secretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, explained the agency’s key focus will be to assist the private sector when using the framework to improve their cybersecurity.  While, no cybersecurity legislation has seen any real movement, both correspondents remained supportive of the program moving forward without such legislation.

U.S. Surveillance policy

President Barak Obama met with NSA officials and leaders in the intelligence community last week in preparation for making any final decisions on any surveillance matters.  The President is expected to weigh in on many of the task forces’ recommendations such as the NSA’s collection of American’s phone records, additional scrutiny on the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, as well as a new safeguard requiring the administration to obtain judicial approval before reviewing citizen’s financial or phone records.  The White House has indicated they will highlight which recommendations will be implemented, which require further study, and those they will not pursue.  While the White House has not specified a date when they will release President Obama’s highly anticipated decision, some believe it could be as soon as Thursday.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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