The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

Floor Speech

By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: April 25, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, the Government Accountability Office says that cyberattacks have grown by 650 percent in 5 years and that the annual cost of these attacks is estimated to be $388 billion. Allowing these trends to proliferate is bad for job creation, consumer protection, and the future of the Internet, whose future success will greatly depend on improving user trust and security online.

The U.S.-driven digital revolution has created countless opportunities, freedoms, and economies of scale. We're the envy of the world in that regard. This revolution is continuing to be driven by information and data. Data is really the natural resource that will power our Nation's future, but only if we safeguard it appropriately.

Your online presence and digital diaries are what I like to refer to as the ``virtual you.'' It's consistently growing and expanding as individuals and businesses operate online. We need to have the certainty that we can freely continue our business online without virtual Peeping Toms and digital thieves enjoying total, uncontrolled access on the online ecosystem. That's why I was troubled to read an article in Politico yesterday titled ``White House Avoids Specific Positions on Cybersecurity Bills.''

We're being attacked by cybersnoopers and state sponsors of cyberespionage like China, Russia, and Iran. But the White House is throwing its hands up in the air, unwilling to lead. The President refused to take a position because advisers in the White House wanted to go farther in ceding authority to the Department of Homeland Security, which can't even manage the dysfunctional Transportation Security Administration. Washington always wants more power and more control.

My colleagues, Congressmen Rogers and Ruppersberger, have worked together in a very diligent and bipartisan manner to educate and articulate the need for cyberintelligence sharing and protections. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act will help us defend against advanced cyberattackers and hackers that want to steal our private or our government information. It also maintains protections for individuals' privacy. The bill's language is specific. It doesn't allow the government to use shared information for non-cybersecurity purposes. It requires an independent inspector general to audit voluntary information shared with the government, and it legally enforces restrictions on government uses of this information.

The voluntary information-sharing framework is preferable because incentive-based security works better than heavy-handed mandates, but the White House and the Senate Democrats disagree with the technology experts. They think there's a cookie-cutter way to address evolving cybersecurity challenges. But we shouldn't pretend to have all of the answers, and we shouldn't let DHS play Whac-A-Mole. We should not and cannot allow the government's massive bureaucracy to expand. It's constantly suffocating innovation and entrepreneurship in this country.

This legislation presents a framework that is flexible and dynamic, not one that is static and top-down. This approach is narrow, not presumptive. The tech industry wants to focus its energy resources and attention on real-time, dynamic threats, and responses.

Moreover, government shouldn't be telling anyone how to regulate critical infrastructure when it hasn't been able to get its own networks and systems secure. The Office of Budget and Management reported almost 42,000 attacks on Federal networks in 2010, an increase of almost 40 percent over the previous year. That's why I'm happy to see Congressman Darrell Issa's bill coming to the floor. Without a doubt, we need better oversight on our Federal information-technology systems.

Each day brings new challenges in the fight to protect our Nation's virtual space and technology innovation, but the cybersecurity bills before the floor this week are unlike the pro-regulatory frameworks that typically characterize Washington's policymaking. Let's move forward with the commonsense voluntary tools we need to strengthen our cyberdefenses, the Internet economy, and the ``virtual you.'' Let's show some leadership.