As the role of technology in our lives becomes increasingly complicated and our technological dependence grows, the cyber-threat from state and nonstate actors grows at an even faster rate.
From its earliest days, the Internet was designed with collaboration and interoperability in mind, and it has grown into a global system of interconnected networks that better connects us, better informs us and maximizes our efficiency. Barely an hour passes that we don’t connect to the Internet to perform some task that makes our lives a little bit easier.
Unfortunately, no one imagined in the early days of the Internet how some might maliciously subvert that open architecture to commit crimes and espionage, and security was an afterthought. Government and private industry are working hard today to fix the many vulnerabilities that remain, but all of these life-changing tools are at risk because the Internet is under attack.
Unbridled industrial cyber-espionage is costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars under a government that has simply admired this problem from afar for far too long. Foreign nation states such as China and Russia are investing major resources to attack our job creators in an attempt to undermine our economic engine.
The No. 1 mission of the federal government is to provide for a national defense that protects its citizenry. In the 21st century, that means staying in front of technological threats in addition to those that are conventional.
After assuming the role of chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I began investigating the nature of the threat. I discovered that the solution does not lie with government, but with the private sector. That’s why I introduced bipartisan legislation that provides authority to private-sector entities to defend their own networks and those of their corporate customers, as well as to share cyber-threat information with others in the private sector and with the federal government on a purely voluntary basis.
My Democratic ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), and I worked hand-in-hand on this legislation, which is virtually unheard of these days. Our concise cyber-sharing bill passed the House on April 28 by a bipartisan vote of 248-168.
By permitting the private sector to expand its own cyber-defense efforts and to employ classified information to protect systems and networks, this legislation will enhance cybersecurity and the networks we all rely upon without costing the taxpayers a dime.
I am proud of this legislation because it was drafted in the open with revisions posted regularly on the Internet with the input of hundreds of private-sector companies, trade groups, privacy and civil liberties advocates and the executive branch, and it enjoys the support of virtually every sector of the economy. We wanted to get it right, and we believe we have succeeded in crafting a bill that will protect our resources and infrastructure while also protecting Americans’ privacy rights.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.