Capital Thinking: Cybersecurity


Legislative Branch Activity

House Cybersecurity Legislation

This week, the House will consider four pieces of cybersecurity legislation on the floor including the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (H.R. 3696), Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act (H.R. 2952), Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (H.R. 3107), and Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act of 2014 (H.R. 3635). All of the bills will be considered under suspension of the rules and are likely to pass by wide margins.

H.R. 3696, H.R. 2952, and H.R. 3107 were previously reported out of the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this year, while H.R. 3635 was considered by the House Oversight and the Government Reform Committee in March. H.R. 3696 had also been referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which has taken no action on the legislation to date. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) are working to make changes to the bill prior to action on the floor to modify the jurisdictional issues that are a result of language related to federal civilian networks. H.R. 3696 is designed to strengthen the cybersecurity of the nation’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors and to codify existing U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity programs. In addition, the legislation amends the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002 to add cybersecurity incidents to the existing program.  

Executive Branch Activity

National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Director

Last week, DHS announced that Larry Zelvin is stepping down as the Director of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in mid-August. The NCCIC serves as the central location for critical infrastructure, the private sector, federal government agencies, and international entities to coordinate and synchronize their response, mitigation and recovery efforts related to cybersecurity. DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Operations and Programs Greg Touhill will serve as the interim NCCIC director until the Department can find a permanent replacement for the position.

DHS Meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Next month, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) will meet with DHS officials to discuss plans for how to defend critical infrastructure from cyber attacks while also addressing concerns over privacy and civil liberties. President Obama’s February 2013 cybersecurity executive order required DHS to work with PCLOB to produce an annual report on privacy and civil liberties issues as they relate to cybersecurity. In the first report issued earlier this year, PCLOB criticized the content of the report and the fact that DHS waited to consult the Board until the report was in the final stages of development. The meeting next month will allow PCLOB to provide more input for future reports and also assist agencies in implementing their cybersecurity programs in a way that respects privacy and civil liberties.

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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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