So, how should we respond? By keeping the internet open and secure. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) bill, which the House will vote on this week, does just that. And it does so while providing strong protections for private information and for the civil liberties of every American. Its core premise is quintessentially Kansan: sharing and volunteerism. Think of it as a Good Samaritan law for cyberspace.
Under current law, companies do not readily share cyber threat information with other companies, and the intelligence community cannot share what it knows with the private sector. CISPA permits, but does not require, entities that have been attacked to voluntarily share their knowledge of a cyber threat with each other and with government. Together, these cooperating organizations can respond quickly to a threat, reduce its impact and prepare to prevent further disruptions to our nation’s electronic infrastructure. This light touch approach ensures the maximum possible participation in threat protection with the minimum possible intrusion on liberty and privacy.
Critics of the bill have nevertheless expressed concern that consumer privacy may be jeopardized. To assuage this fear, the bill incorporates several provisions specifically aimed at strengthening privacy protections. For example, an amendment I offered last year ensures that CISPA grants no new authority to monitor private networks. The bill also permits private rights of action (lawsuits) for violations of privacy. In addition, it encourages minimization of any personal data that might be transferred and expressly limits how all information can be shared. All told, over a dozen amendments have been offered to ensure that CISPA respects privacy rights.
CISPA will also help protect American jobs. Every single day agents of certain foreign governments are relentlessly and methodically trying to hack into our corporations’ computer networks and steal blueprints for next-generation equipment and products from some of America’s largest exporters. If they can successfully get their hands on those blueprints, these nations will attempt to repurpose the designs themselves and sell knock-off products on the open market, artificially and illegally competing against American inventors and producers without having spent one dime on research and development themselves. Letting cyberbandits get away with such conduct would cost thousands of American jobs. Examples of corporate espionage like this are why groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support CISPA.
I am convinced that the steps contained in H.R. 624 are reasonable, acceptable, and valuable. The vast majority of members of Congress who take the time to study this legislation will agree. This is not a question of sacrificing liberty or privacy in order to ensure security. Rather, by making electronic data more secure, CISPA enhances both liberty and privacy. For this reason, the Heritage Foundation — a pre-eminent protector of freedom — has also endorsed this bill.
These cybercrimes against our country and private citizens must not continue to happen. We can act now to prevent them through voluntary cooperative measures, and we do not have to trade away liberty or privacy to do so. The sooner we act, the sooner we can start turning the tables on cyberattackers. Please join me in supporting CISPA on the House Floor this week.
Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.