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McCaul, Meehan, Thompson, Clarke Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3696, the “National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2013” (NCCIP Act).

Cyber hackers and other states seeking to steal, disrupt or destroy our nation’s most critical assets through cyber attacks are ramping up their efforts to do us harm. Hackers from Iran have targeted major U.S. banks and Chinese hackers have conducted espionage against our government agencies including the Pentagon as well as major technology firms. Cyber attacks on the nation’s banking system, power grids, energy pipelines, water systems, telecommunication networks and transportation systems could cause catastrophic damage and result in disastrous effects on the public health and safety of Americans, the economy and national security.

H.R. 3696 strengthens the cybersecurity of the nation’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors as well as the federal government by codifying, strengthening and providing oversight of the cybersecurity mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – the agency responsible for ensuring the security of our critical infrastructure. The NCCIP Act bolsters the true partnership between private industry and the federal government so that together they can raise the bar on cybersecurity. The bill ensures privacy and civil liberties are protected and prevents additional new regulatory authority at DHS stemming from President Obama’s Cybersecurity Executive Order.

Chairman McCaul said: “Cyber attacks are a top national security and economic threat to the United States, and we cannot wait for a major strike before improving our defenses. Americans could be greatly harmed by a cyber assault on our nation’s power supply, water or banking systems. H.R. 3696 recognizes this growing threat and strengthens the capabilities of DHS – a civilian, transparent agency – to protect critical infrastructure, while prohibiting new regulations. From our oil and gas lines to our communications devices, the NCCIP Act will make every American safer and our information networks more secure.”

Subcommittee Chairman Meehan said: “The threat to our homeland has evolved, and we must ensure that our defenses evolve along with it. Our top national security experts agree that the threat of cyber attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure will soon be the top national security threat. The NCCIP Act will allow us to face the cyber threat head on. The bill will help us responsibly coordinate our cyber defenses and strengthen civilian leadership of them while protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.”

Ranking Member Bennie Thompson said: “This bill represents a positive step forward to help foster a more secure cyberspace and keep America on the forefront of innovation.  Under this measure, the Department of Homeland Security would have the authority it needs to effectively execute its cybersecurity mission, a bipartisan priority. I am particularly pleased that Chairman McCaul worked with us to focus attention on the security needs of critical infrastructure and was responsive to our concerns about privacy.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clarke said: “Threats to our cybersecurity have the potential to harm our economy, undermine our national defense, and eliminate the protection of privacy on which we depend in our daily lives. This bill will allow the Department of Homeland Security to fulfill its duty to the American people – to protect their information for unauthorized disclosure and, consequently, from misuse. I am pleased that Chairman McCaul worked with both Republicans and Democrats to protect our cyber infrastructure.”

A one-pager explaining the bill can be found HERE, and full text of H.R. 3696 is available

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