Cyberattack Prevention, Assessment, And Response Is A Key Focus In Intelligence Authorization Bill Passed By The House

King & Spalding

On December 1, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a revised Intelligence Authorization Act.  The White House had threatened to veto a previous version of the bill, but proponents of the passed version say that many of the disputed portions of the bill had been removed.  Much of the bill is classified, including details on spending levels and intelligence policy decisions.  However, among other things, the bill promotes intelligence integration and sharing through investment in intelligence community-wide information technology enterprises, funds efforts to recover from unauthorized disclosures of intelligence capabilities, and funds initiatives to thwart cyberattacks and insider threats, according to the House Intelligence Committee summary.

One significant aspect of the bill is its requirement that the Director of National Intelligence conduct a study in consultation with the Director of the FBI and the Secretary of Defense to determine the damage of cyber incidents.  Specifically, Section 313 of the bill [hyperlink] directs the Director of National intelligence to determine appropriate standards that can be used to measure the damage of cyber incidents for the purposes of determining the response to such incidents, and include a method for quantifying the damage caused to affected computers, systems, and devices.

“This bill strikes the right balance by providing the necessary means to counter the wide-ranging threats from state and non-state actors, particularly in cyberspace, outer space and the undersea environment,” California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement last week.  “The bill also takes critical steps to shore up our counter-intelligence capabilities—particularly important in light of the devastating OPM breach.”

At least one controversial element still remains in the bill, however.  The bill seeks to block the use of authorized funds to transfer or release detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison, in direct opposition to President Obama’s statement that he will seek to close the prison before he leaves office.

Reporter, Andrew M. W. Mutter, Atlanta, +1 404 572 4705,

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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