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Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, I am very honored and proud to follow the Senator from Maryland, who has been such an extraordinary leader in so many areas and, most prominently and recently, this one that involves the future of our country. I thank the Senator from Rhode Island for his leadership and my colleague, Senator Coons of Delaware, because he has been at the forefront. This issue truly is bipartisan. Senator Blunt has played a leading role, as have Senator Graham and Senator Kyl and, of course, Senators Lieberman and Collins and Senator McCain, who was on the floor before, and Senator Chambliss. This kind of amassing senatorial consensus reflects the urgency and immediacy of this problem. Our Nation is under attack.
I came today from a meeting with one of the major accounting and consulting companies in the United States, whose name would be immediately recognizable to you, and by happenstance, sheer coincidence, he said to me that his company is attacked literally 1,000 times a day. His company has information that is intensely valuable and private and has taken steps to safeguard itself. But the magnitude of this attack on this single company and others like it that may have intellectual property lost to this country if it gets stolen by hackers and by other nations reflects the seriousness and importance of this issue.
Time is not on our side. We must act immediately. The Senate must follow its duty and make sure we meet the challenge, No. 1, of bringing together all the stakeholders to enhance the resiliency of our critical infrastructure systems. Much of this infrastructure lies beyond the purview of the Federal Government. Cybersecurity is a major concern of both the government and the private sector. There must be a partnership between them; it is not for either to do alone.
Today, the computers that control energy and manufacturing, water, and chemical facilities across the country are connected via the Internet. None of them is an island. No one is an island in the Internet age. We are all under attack when any one of us is under attack.
I believe we have a path forward to strengthen protection of our Nation's network industrial control systems without heavyhanded regulation and in partnership with the businesses that own the systems. Many are already pursuing best practices. Many already are addressing this threat. And my hope is that the legislation coming forward as a result of the leadership by my colleagues here today will make sure these best practices become common practices and uniform to every industry so that access to controls and audits and monitoring is done systemically.
Finally, let me emphasize--and I think this point is especially critical to many who are watching this process today--we can make progress in strengthening the privacy and civil liberties protection in cybersecurity while preserving its underlying goal of safeguarding the Nation.
Americans have become aware of the need to protect online privacy. As I have seen personally in my contacts with the citizens of Connecticut, they are outraged and fearful about frequent reports of massive data breaches and the theft of personal information as a result of the very hacking that threatens private industry and the government. Hacking and spear phishing attacks that have become a daily occurrence in our lives threaten our privacy, our financial integrity, and our security.
A recent United Technologies National Journal poll found that 62 percent of respondents believe that government and businesses should not be allowed at all to share information because it would hurt privacy and civil liberties. That same poll found that 67 percent of those surveyed said they were either very or somewhat concerned about threats to our country's computer networks. The two anxieties go hand in hand, they fit together, and we must find a path forward on this legislation reconciling these views.
I personally believe this cybersecurity is compatible with privacy protection and with the liberties--including the liberty to go to court and protect the individual rights--that are so integral and fundamental to our constitutional protections and American civil liberties. We can make sure adequate protections are in place.
Again, this task is one we must address--and address it now.
I again thank the Senator from Rhode Island, and I yield to him.
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