Friday, April 24, 2015

Billy Long: We must create a safe, secure online environment

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Americans now live in an online world. Many interact with friends and family on email or Facebook, bank and shop online, and store important information on computer networks. Unfortunately, we have come to face the ugly reality of criminals who steal personal information, hack into business and government files or, worse, leverage online infrastructure vulnerabilities for terror. Southwest Missourians know this all too well with recent hacks into Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Target.

Our ability to secure the web has been held back even with the great technological advancement made in the past 10 years. The House passed this week two bills directly addressing the need to bolster cybersecurity and would remove unnecessary hurdles to creating a safe, secure online environment without infringing on Americans’ privacy.

The Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) would allow private companies to share threat information with each other, whereas private entities are currently prohibited from doing so, and allow voluntary sharing of threat information with the federal government. Keeping Americans’ privacy concerns in mind, neither the National Security Agency (NSA) nor the Department of Defense would receive the reports. Companies would be required to remove all personal data before sharing intelligence, and federal agencies receiving the reports would automatically conduct an additional removal of any private information before investigation.

The National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act would grant private companies legal protections to fight threats and share threat information with the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, an integration center within the Department of Homeland Security working with the federal government, intelligence community, and law enforcement for cyberattack response and prevention. Privacy protections like those in PCNA are included in this bill. The only information shared with the federal government is cyber threat indicators. No personal information would be shared.

I voted in favor of these strong, bipartisan bills to ensure businesses have the tools necessary to fend off online threats. The House has taken the lead on cybersecurity bills in recent years, but most died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. I look forward to the Senate’s action on these critical bills and giving Americans a greater sense of security and peace of mind.

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