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Public Statements

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Madam Chair, today I rise to support the bill.

I can say, Madam Chair, that I actually voted against the bill last term. But today I am proud to say, because of the hard work of both the chairman and the ranking member and so many members of this committee, that today I stand before you in support of the bill.

I am now a new member of the Intelligence Committee and, as I've told my staff, the more you know, the better you can vote. And today, I want to rise to explain why I am voting for this bill.

I think that everybody agrees that there are cyber threats each and every day. And, in fact, Director Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, he actually said his number one thing that keeps him up at night is cyber attacks.

And what this bill will do is simply to share information. It is not about releasing personal identifiable information. That is strictly prohibited by this bill. So it is strictly prohibited by this bill.

And this bill has been greatly enhanced by so many of my wonderful colleagues who have submitted amendments, many of which I am sure will pass tomorrow, as well as greatly enhanced by the amendments that were brought forth by committee members.

I shared some serious concerns about some privacy protections when I came on the committee, and I have to tell you that the committee was gracious enough to listen to the amendments that I offered, as well as other amendments that were offered by my colleagues on this side of the aisle.

I was surprised, given the partisan nature of politics here in this House, that the Intelligence Committee really tries, because of our national security, to work together. And in a true bipartisan manner, many of those privacy protections were unanimously agreed to by members of the committee.

Once again, I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill, and I urge the President to sign this bill into law.

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Today, I rise in support of this bill. But Madam Chair, last year, I voted against the cybersecurity bill that was offered in this body. I am now and am honored to serve as a member of the Intelligence Committee and the more you know, the better you can vote. I want to commend the Chairman and the Ranking Member for their leadership to improve this legislation. I also want to thank all of my colleagues who offered amendments to strengthen this bill by providing more privacy protections for our citizens and improving inter-agency coordination. While this is not a perfect bill, this is a step in the right direction and I am hopeful that the Senate will take up this measure and make it even stronger. It is also my hope that the White House will continue to work with us in this body's effort to be proactive instead of reactive. Madam Speaker, we simply cannot afford to wait--The threats against our national and economic security are real. Attacks against our financial, energy and communication sectors are happening every day. We have received dire warnings from our defense and intelligence officials that widespread attacks are the number one threat to our national security above all else. The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has elevated cyber threats to the top of the list of national-security concerns. The National Intelligence Estimate provided evidence of widespread infiltrations of U.S. computer networks. Evidence has also emerged of spying inside the computer networks of major U.S. media, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Defense and intelligence officials have grown increasingly alarmed over a relentless cyber attack campaign against U.S. banks, critical infrastructure and a host of other private entities.

We must continue to work together to find a balance between preserving privacy and protecting the security of this country from the danger of cyber attacks. Sharing cyber threat information, as provided for in this bill, is vital for combatting malicious hackers, criminals, and foreign agents. By removing the legal and regulatory barriers currently impeding the free flow of actionable information, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) will promote nimble, adaptive innovation--the best strategy for defending against a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

This growing number and complexity of cyber attacks on private and government computers has provided an opportunity for us to join together and pass bipartisan legislation to address the problem. I am committed to finding a workable solution with the Senate and White House, and I believe this bill provides a solid framework on a critical issue for national and economic security. I look forward to considering any amendments my colleagues put forth today to help improve the legislation of this bill. And though I realize this is not a perfect bill, I think the time to act is now to protect our national security. I urge members to vote for this legislation.


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