WASHINGTON— Today Senate Democrats introduced a bipartisan bill to stop state actors, criminals and terrorists in cyberspace determined to harm America’s economy and national security by attacking our technology infrastructure. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the chairs of seven committees of jurisdiction, Chairs Joe Lieberman, Jay Rockefeller, Carl Levin, Patrick Leahy, Diane Feinstein, John Kerry and Jeff Bingaman.
“Today we rely more heavily than ever on technology to run everything from power plants to missile systems to personal computers. In a rapidly changing world it’s important that we adapt new to threats to our security,” Sen. Reid said. “We need to act now in a bipartisan manner to safeguard our government, our economy and Americans’ personal information from those who would reach across the wires and harm our national interests. And assessing risks and preparing for the worst are crucial steps in protecting our networks.”
Cyber criminals and state adversaries pose a threat to both national security and our economy by threatening infrastructure, defense systems and global communications. Criminals and hackers probe U.S. government computer networks millions of times every day, about 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year and cyber crime costs large American businesses $3.8 million a year. More than $1 trillion worth of and intellectual property has already been stolen from American businesses.
Sen. Patrick Leahy said: “In the digital age, our nation faces the difficult challenge of protecting our vulnerable computer networks from cyber threats, while at the same time encouraging American innovation and respecting privacy rights and civil liberties. With this legislation, we begin the important work of enhancing the security of our digital infrastructure and ensuring the privacy rights of all Americans. I look forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as this legislation moves forward.”
Sen. Carl Levin said: “Cyber space is an arena of great potential and vulnerabilities. Congress and the Administration have been acting to address some portions of these vulnerabilities. In fact, as part of a bipartisan effort to improve certain areas within the Defense Department, the Armed Services Committee last year sponsored legislation to resolve longstanding policy issues, develop better cyber acquisition processes, and conduct major commercial technology demonstrations. However, much more needs to be done across the government, and in partnership with the private sector and the international community. This bill would be a significant and essential step in speeding that process along.”
Sen. Jeff Bingaman said: “This legislation will address gaps in Federal authority to protect against cyber security threats. It will help safeguard our nation against the possibility of an act that disrupts, or attempts to disrupt, America’s critical electric infrastructure.”
Sen. John Kerry said: “As the last few years have shown, the threats emerging from cyberspace will only continue to multiply. The United States urgently requires comprehensive cyber legislation that will bolster our diplomatic and security efforts, increase American competitiveness and generate jobs, while safeguarding access to information and individual privacy. This bill lays an important first marker in support of those goals.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller said: “Every day, cyber thieves are stealing our identities, our money, our business innovations and our national security secrets. We must secure our networks to safeguard our future. The comprehensive bill we’ve introduced will stop the hemorrhaging of America’s assets to cyber criminals and spies. I commend Sen. Reid for his leadership, and look forward to working with my colleagues and the White House to get this bill passed this year.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman said: “The future security of the American way of life depends on passage of comprehensive cyber security legislation that will provide the federal government with modern tools to secure and defend the nation’s most critical networks and assets. Last Congress we made great, bipartisan strides towards passing such legislation, and I’m pleased the Cyber Security and American Cyber Competiveness Act will build on that progress. I commend Senator Reid for making cyber security legislation a priority in the 112th Congress and I urge the Administration to do the same and engage in the legislative process as soon as possible.”
Sen. Diane Feinstein said: “The intelligence shows that the threat from criminals, terrorists, and foreign governments in cyber space is real and growing daily. We cannot address this threat piecemeal, and the intelligence community has the expertise to be part of the solution. I believe comprehensive legislation will help individual citizens, private companies and the federal government improve their ability to defend against these attacks.”
The legislation calls for urgent action to safeguard critical infrastructure, including the electric grid, military assets, the financial sector and telecommunications networks. It urges incentive for the private sector to assess the risk of cyber terrorism and take action to prevent it and promote investments in the American IT sector, which will create high-paying jobs. The bill also seeks to improve the capability of the U.S. government to assess cyber risks, and to prevent, detect and respond to attacks. It calls for safeguards to protect consumers by preventing identity theft and guarding against abuses of personal information, and seeks to promote cooperation between nations in responding to cyber threats.