By Jay Hansen
This is Senator Jim Inhofe’s response to my letter I wrote him about CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), which you can read here. Say what you want about Senator Inhofe, he’s probably the most prompt politician I’ve ever even heard of. I wrote him on May 3rd, and received a response on May 7th. He also responded to my previous letters very quickly.
Summary: Senator Inhofe did not address CISPA at all in his reply, exactly as he did when I asked him of SOPA in the previously linked correspondence. He did, however, mention related legislation such as The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and the SECURE IT Act, but even still did not give comment on this legislation. He said should this or similar legislation reach the Senate floor, he will “keep [my] views in mind,” and that he “will continue to support efforts to strengthen cybersecurity defenses while importantly promoting the free flow of commerce and information on the Internet.”
To give just a little commentary here, his letter is almost identically structured and worded as his response to my letter about SOPA, with virtually no specifications about the legislation about which I actually asked. With SOPA, this was apparently because Inhofe was undecided how to publicly approach the legislation, or possibly undecided on it altogether. Given that, it’s entirely possible Inhofe may soon be against CISPA, or at the very least, given that he said nothing to the affect of CISPA in his reply, he’s undecided on the issue.
Dear Mr. Hansen:
Thank you for contacting me regarding cybersecurity in the United States. As your voice in Washington D.C., I appreciate hearing from you.
Cyber attacks on the federal government continue to increase. In 2011, out of the total 107,655 attacks reported, 43,889 were aimed at federal departments and agencies. As new high-tech dangers emerge, we must be prepared to defend against both domestic and foreign hackers who wish to do harm to the United States.
Several bills were introduced in the 112th Congress to address these increasing cybersecurity threats. On February 16, 2012, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Senator Susan Collins (R- ME ) introduced S. 2105, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, to conduct risk assessments to determine which sectors are subject to the greatest and most immediate cyber risks. It authorizes DHS, with the private sector, to determine cybersecurity performance requirements based upon the risk assessments, and issue regulations to ensure they are met. The performance requirements would cover critical infrastructure systems and assets whose disruption could result in severe degradation of national security, catastrophic economic damage, or the interruption of life-sustaining services sufficient to cause mass casualties or mass evacuations.
The bill is designed to cover the most critical systems and assets in a given sector, and only if they are not already being appropriately secured. Some critical infrastructure is already required to adhere to very high standards by their oversight agency. Lastly, this bill provides a framework for the sharing of cyber threat information between the federal government and the private sector, and within the private sector.
Additionally, on March 1, 2012, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the SECURE IT Act, which encourages voluntary information-sharing between the government and private sectors but includes no requirements for securing privately owned critical infrastructure.
Should either of these bills be considered by the Senate during the 112th Congress or a new consolidated bill come to the Senate floor, I will certainly keep your views in mind. Please know that I will continue to support efforts to strengthen cybersecurity defenses while importantly promoting the free flow of commerce and information on the Internet.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future with any other concerns or comments you may have.
James M. Inhofe
United States Senator