Chairmen Johnson, McCaul Seek to Clarify Conflicting Government Agencies’ Cybersecurity Guidance

Washington – Wednesday, Chairmen Johnson and McCaul sent letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to clarify conflicting guidance on cybersecurity best practices regarding the use of Wireless Intrusion Detection Systems and Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems (WIDS/WIPS) to protect wireless networks and users from cyber-attacks. 

DHS has issued guidance that discusses the importance of WIDS/WIPS to detect and take countermeasures against threats to wireless local area networks (WLAN).  Despite this, the FCC recently suggested a WLAN operator would violate federal law if it used WIDS/WIPS to block a wireless network access point being used to launch a cyber-attack against the operator’s network or its customers.  While the Chairmen support prohibitions against anticompetitive uses of WIDS/WIPS, blanket prohibitions put consumers’ data unnecessarily at risk.    

Chairman Johnson said, “The Enforcement Bureau at the FCC is out of control.  Earlier this year, the Enforcement Bureau issued two FCC Enforcement Advisories regarding so-called Wi-Fi Blocking.  But, the Enforcement Bureau is not the expert bureau in policymaking at the FCC and the FCC is not the expert agency in cybersecurity.  That is why it comes as no surprise that the FCC’s so-called “guidance” threatens the security of consumer data and is inconsistent with best practices outlined by other, more experienced agencies.”

Chairman McCaul said, “We need to allow our U.S. businesses the ability to protect their wireless networks, and thus their consumers’ sensitive and private information from cyber hackers. DHS has confirmed that the use of this technology is a cybersecurity best practice.  There are two major departments within the Obama Administration saying vastly different things on how to secure wireless networks.  The bottom line is that American companies need the ability to protect their customers, rather than bureaucratic confusion from the U.S. government that puts consumers at risk.”

Letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can be viewed here.

Letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can be viewed here.