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Commerce Committee leaders introduced cyber legislation last year

December 12, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) today applauded the passage of their bipartisan cyber legislation that will help strengthen and protect the nation’s economic and national security. The passage of the Rockefeller-Thune bill last night follows years of work to reach a bipartisan consensus on cybersecurity legislation.

“For years, I have said that cyber attacks pose one of the gravest threats to our national and economic security. Now, with the passage of the Commerce Committee’s cybersecurity legislation, protecting our information networks is a top priority for the federal government,” Rockefeller said. “NIST and our research agencies will have a leading role in this effort, and the authority to work closely with the private sector to identify and reduce cyber risks. I’m grateful for Ranking Member Thune’s hard work on this legislation and his dedication to making cybersecurity a top priority.”

“This bill will ensure a voluntary partnership between the government and private sector to protect the computer systems Americans rely on every day,” said Thune. “It will also focus efforts to find longer-term solutions to cyber threats through research, education and workforce development. There is much work still to be done to safeguard cyberspace so I look forward to the president signing this bill into law without delay. This bill would not have happened without Chairman Rockefeller’s willingness to work across the aisle to build consensus and the cooperation of our partners in the House, led by Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith.”

The Cybersecurity Act of 2013, S. 1353, which passed both the Senate and House of Representatives last night as the “Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014,” authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to facilitate and support the development of voluntary, industry-led cyber standards and best practices for critical infrastructure – codifying elements of the successful process through which the NIST Cybersecurity Framework was developed. The bill authorizes the federal government to support cutting edge research, raise public awareness of cyber risks, and improve the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. The bill that will soon be sent to the President for his consideration incorporates a number of cybersecurity research provisions passed by the House of Representatives in H.R. 756, sponsored by Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) and championed by House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).

The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 will:

  • Formalize cybersecurity as one of NIST’s priority areas of focus by creating a NIST-facilitated, industry-driven process for developing a set of voluntary cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure. These standards will not duplicate or conflict with existing cyber requirements or regulatory processes, and they will be non-regulatory, non-prescriptive and technology neutral;
  • Strengthen cyber research and development by building on existing research and development programs, and ensure better coordination across the federal government;
  • Improve the cyber workforce and cyber education by making sure the next generation of cyber experts are trained and prepared for the future;
  • Increase the public’s awareness of cyber risks and cybersecurity; and
  • Advance cybersecurity technical standards.