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Hack Your State Department Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this measure.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Lieu of southern California, a very valued member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for his hard work on this bill.

It is important, Mr. Speaker, that we modernize our agencies across government to better deal with 21st century challenges.

The State Department is under constant threat of cyberattacks from foreign actors bent on stealing our secrets, disrupting our foreign policy, and undermining our security.

Just 8 days ago, it was reported that the State Department's email system was breached. This time, whoever was behind the attack got ahold of private information about State Department personnel. Who knows what they will get their hands on next time.

Mr. Lieu's bill will help shore up the State Department against this sort of intrusion. First of all, it requires the Secretary of State to get out ahead of this problem. Instead of waiting for the next attack to happen, this bill would mandate a plan for researchers to actively seek out and report vulnerabilities.

Secondly, this bill launches a new initiative, a so-called bug bounty program. This seeks to tap the expertise of everyday Americans by rewarding citizens who uncover and report security risks in the Department's computer system. It will also allow security researchers and friendly hackers to find the cracks in the system so that the Department can patch them.

This effort is modeled after a very successful program at the Defense Department, which got off the ground in 2016. Since then, 1,400 people have registered to participate, and they have found roughly 140 vulnerabilities.

Our Federal agencies should learn from one another. It is just common sense to put this tested practice to work at the State Department and elsewhere.

Mr. Speaker, I commend Mr. Lieu.


Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Ted Lieu), the author of the bill.


Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close.

In closing, I want to again thank Mr. Lieu and Chairman Royce.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that we have been caught flatfooted before a range of new threats, including cyber attacks. Our agencies have not done enough to root out vulnerabilities, and, frankly, Congress hasn't done enough either to make sure our agencies across the government have the tools they need to tackle these challenges.

I hope going forward we will be able to take a comprehensive look at cyber threats and make sure the State Department, and all our departments and agencies, are up to the task.

For now, this bill is a good step in the right direction. It replicates an approach that has worked well over the last few years.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to support it, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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