United States: Legislative - Federal - Privacy & Cybersecurity Update, Issue 2

President Obama Approves Senate Bill on Contractor Security Mandates

On July 7, President Obama signed the Senate version of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The bill requires intelligence community contractors with access to classified information to increase protections against unauthorized disclosure of such information, rapidly report data breaches to the government, and perform ongoing background checks of employees and officers.

Senator Releases Draft of Cybersecurity Data Sharing Act

On June 17, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) introduced a discussion draft version of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014. Senator Feinstein collaborated with Senator Saxby Chambliss (R–GA) on the bill. The Act would incentivize the sharing of cyber threat information between the private sector and government entities, provide liability protection for certain data sharing, and offer protections to avoid unnecessary privacy intrusions. Chambliss previously stated at a Bloomberg Government conference on June 3 that he believes the Senate will produce bipartisan cybersecurity legislation this year. The bill was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee in amended form on July 8.

Senate Committee Approves Legislation to Improve U.S. Cybersecurity Defenses

On June 25, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved by voice vote a pair of bills sponsored by Tom Carper (D–DE) and Tom Coburn (R–OK). One bill would codify the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which assists the private sector in combating cyber threats. The other bill would revise the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 and focus attention on data breaches.

Senator Proposes Bill to Combat Foreign Cyber Theft

Senator Carl Levin (D–MI) and several others introduced the Deter Cyber Theft Act of 2014 on May 22. The Act would give the President the ability to impose sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on individuals and entities that benefit from the cyber theft of intellectual property. Specifically, the Act would allow the President to freeze the assets of foreign companies that have knowingly benefited from the theft. In addition, it would require the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to compile an annual report on countries and technologies involved in economic and industrial espionage.

House Passes Bill Strengthening Legal Protections Against NSA Surveillance

The House of Representatives voted on June 19 to amend the Department of Defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015, to include language restricting National Security Agency("NSA") surveillance of citizen communications and activities. The amendment, which received bipartisan support from a group lead by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D–CA), Jim Sensenbrenner (R–WI), and Thomas Massie (R–KY), would bar governmental review of communications made by an American citizen without a search warrant, even if the communication involved a suspected terrorist outside of the country. In addition, the amendment would prohibit the Central Intelligence Agency and NSA from using funds to persuade technology companies to build "back doors" into IT products that would allow government surveillance.

House Introduces Bill to Protect Consumers from Unwanted Data Collection

The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee approved an amendment to the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 that would create an opt-out list for consumers who do not want the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") to collect personal information about them. The amendment would also require the CFPB to provide public notice of any consumer information data breach and to provide a free year of credit monitoring to affected consumers.

Joint House Subcommittee Hearing Considers Privacy Threat to Students

A Joint House Subcommittee hearing on June 25 considered testimony regarding data mining that may affect student privacy. Fordham University School of Law Professor Joel Reidenberg cited a study that he co-led, which found that 95 percent of school districts rely on cloud services for storing data, yet less than seven percent of the underlying contracts restrict the sale of the data to third-party marketers.

Congressional Representatives Ask FCC Not to Impose Rigid Cybersecurity Legislation

In a June 16 letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R–MI) and committee member Mike Pompeo (R–KS) expressed concerns with recent public statements by the FCC that indicate the commission may be preparing to implement a "new regulatory scheme" that would encourage telecommunications providers to take certain measures to secure their networks from increasing cyber threats. The representatives stated that the most effective way to protect networks from cyber threats is to allow the industry to take the lead in battling cyberattacks.

Proposed House Appropriations Bill Includes Assessment of Cybersecurity Framework

Representative Jim Langevin (D–RI) proposed an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 that would require the Commerce Department to determine the extent to which companies have adopted the voluntary Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The amendment was adopted by a voice vote on May 28.

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Kevin D. Lyles
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