Finally, any legislation must promote voluntary information sharing on cyberthreats. It must relax restrictions on the sharing of relevant cybersecurity information between and among the private sector and the government, as well as promote the sharing of cyber-intelligence between the government and the private sector — all while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of Americans who spend a large part of their personal and working lives online. These efforts should be transparent so Americans clearly understand what is done with their information. Accordingly, a civilian federal agency, such as the DHS, must be the central point for such information sharing, and it should put safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood that personally identifiable information about ordinary Americans’ Internet activity is shared.
Though these three essential elements are broad, there is reason for concern that, under pressure from special interests, the cybersecurity legislation presented to the House will not meet these basic criteria. However, I believe homeland security should be a bipartisan effort and I believe there is still time to get this right if we come together, as we have done on this issue in the past, to take the steps that we all know are needed to safeguard our country.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee.