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Mr. SCHNEIDER. Every day, U.S. Web sites, databases, and operating networks are threatened by foreign governments, criminal organizations, and other groups trying to hack into our systems and wreak havoc.
Daily we read about infiltrations of the networks of our banks, newspapers, and even Federal agencies putting sensitive information at risk. These cyber attacks are real, and they can have devastating consequences: billions of dollars a year in stolen intellectual property and the potential to shut down our power grids and financial systems. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act gives the private sector the necessary tools to protect itself and its customers against these cyber attacks.
Currently, the intelligence community has the ability to detect cyber threats, but Federal law prohibits the sharing of this information with the very companies whose firewalls are under attack. By sharing this information, private companies can actually prevent these attacks.
The amendment I'm offering makes a small, clarifying change to the underlying bill, simply allowing independent contractors to be eligible for security clearances to perform the critical work of handling cyber threat intelligence. This clarification will allow companies--in particular, small and medium-sized businesses without the resources to employ full-time experts--to hire the most capable individuals and organizations to analyze network information, coordinate with the Federal Government, and protect ordinary Americans.
We cannot allow ourselves to be in a situation where the Federal Government has available the information to prevent or mitigate a cyber attack, but companies remain defenseless because there was no legal framework to share that critical information.
The networks at risk power our homes, our small businesses, and are what allow our banking systems to function. They facilitate nearly every aspect of our daily lives. These networks must be protected as best and responsibly as possible.
I urge my colleagues to support both my amendment and final passage of this critically important bill.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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