House Dem revives major cyber bill

A senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Friday will reintroduce a controversial bill that would help the public and private sectors share information about cybersecurity threats.

“The reason I’m putting bill in now is I want to keep the momentum going on what’s happening out there in the world,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), told The Hill in an interview, referring to the recent Sony hack, which the FBI blamed on North Korea.

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The measure — known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) — has been a top legislative priority for industry groups and intelligence officials, who argue the country cannot properly defend critical infrastructure without it. 

The House passed Ruppersberger’s bill last year, but it stalled in the Senate amid concerns from privacy advocates that it would enable more collection of Americans’ private information.

Ruppersberger lost his 2014 co-sponsor of the bill, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who retired from Congress.

“I’m putting the bill in by myself,” Ruppersberger said, acknowledging it would require work to find new bipartisan support. But by reintroducing the bill, “hopefully that will create momentum,” he added.

Ruppersberger wants to ride the wave of attention on Capitol Hill driven by the cyberattack on Sony, which caused the studio to almost cancel the release of a multimillion-dollar comedy, “The Interview,” which depicts an American plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony ultimately released the film to a limited number of theaters and streamed it online.

The studio’s initial decision to pull the film drew a wave of criticism from lawmakers. The government’s subsequent announcement that North Korea sponsored the attack caused more lawmakers than ever before to call for action on cybersecurity.

“We have to move forward,” Ruppersberger said.