Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Chair, I rise to speak on H.R. 624, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
I thank and appreciate the hard work done by Chairman ROGERS and Ranking Member RUPPERSBERGER for their leadership of the House Committee on Intelligence that crafted the legislation we are considering. They have demonstrated their strength of bipartisanship in their work to make great improvements in the bill that was considered during the last Congress.
The bill is intended to improve our nation's ability to investigate and prosecute cybersecurity crimes; secure the protection of individuals from danger of death or serious bodily harm and investigate and prosecute crimes against the most vulnerable in society--our children. The bill's objective regarding minors is to provide physical safety for them from sexual abuse, kidnapping and trafficking.
The debate on H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act afforded members of the House of Representatives and the American public a view into some of the more complex issues related to the protection of digital information.
The bill's drafters and those who have contributed to the process through the amendments offered worked to improve the work already done by the Intelligence Committee. The goal of the bill is not to lay bare the personal digital records of every individual living in the United States. The text of the legislation explicitly states that the government could not obtain library records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, tax return records, education records or medical records.
The Internet challenges us as policymakers because it introduces into our deliberative process a class of technology that can change far faster than other forms of technology. This fact is acknowledged by the bill's sponsors by highlighting the nature of threats that exists on the Internet--rapid and automated. Cyber attacks can be as short as a few minutes or last for only 2 hours. Thieves work together and have learned to use our own personal computers to help them hurt us. The tools that have proven to be the most threatening are called botnets. A botnet uses a computer virus or worm program to infiltrate computers and take control of them. One botnet can be made of millions of private personal computers. A botnet of this size would have the computing power to overwhelm a major institution's network with a brute force attack that searches for the password to one account on a computer network. Once the botnet controller has gotten access to a private or government network they can use that access to seek greater control.
The question for us today is should the Congress view the threats posed by the Digital Information Age with the same urgency as when our nation has faced events such as September 11 or catastrophic hurricanes.
Many of my colleagues have joined me in expressing great concern about privacy and civil liberties as the Federal presence on the Internet has grown. Federal government agencies are now using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to communicate with and engage millions of Americans.
There appears to be no scarcity in the capacity of the Internet to accommodate new business websites, technological innovations or the millions of new Internet users who purchase digital devices, create blogs or e-mail accounts.
The Internet is more than ones and zeros--it is how the world is working, living, and communicating. Its borderless nature and ubiquitous presence means that billions of computing devices can interact and connect using the global telecommunication infrastructure.
Computing technology was once tethered by technical limitations to physical spaces--now computing devices are mobile. For example, a few years ago, portable phones that were as powerful as computers were difficult for most consumers to imagine--now they are common place. Unfortunately, with every advance in computing innovation we see that there are those within society who would search for vulnerabilities in these innovations to disrupt their operation.
The Internet is a critical path forward for our nation's recovering economy. However, to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities the Internet makes possible, we must understand the threats and risks as well as take full advantage of innovation.
One of the central challenges for us as legislators is to preserve the Constitution of the United States for future generations. Each generation of Americans has had the task of defining the role of government in their lives. Today, the Internet is making the role of government in American life in some ways more transparent and accessible through government agency websites.
We as members of Congress are using the Internet to bring more transparency to the work we do on behalf of our constituents. The content found on House web pages provides access to information regarding the work we do on behalf of the public.
The Internet could also make the government's presence in our lives much more opaque. For example, the same social networking services that families and friends create to share details about their lives is not held solely under their control.
What once would have been words shared among family members are now digital data stored with social networking service providers. Computer stored data can live on far longer than may be prudent for the peace and tranquility of family life or economic opportunities as our child transition from youth into responsible adults.
If the government gained access to the digital equivalent of your papers and effects--it would leave no signs of having done so. Digital information unlike paper does not fade way nor do the words in digital files degrade when they are copied over and over again.
What is more problematic for the purpose of our debate on this bill is what would happen if the government had open access to decades of communications: the books read; videos watched; thoughts expressed; or the joys and sorrows of millions of our nation's citizens. How would this impact the America experience?
We know that the founders of this nation were determined to protect the privacy of people from the power of the government. The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.