Top Dem endorses Obama cyber order

Top Dem endorses Obama cyber order
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The House Intelligence panel’s top Democrat is giving a full endorsement to President Obama’s executive order Wednesday that authorizes more sanctions on cyberattackers.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam SchiffOvernight Tech: Facebook, Twitter to testify before Senate | EU orders Amazon to pay 0M in back taxes | Reddit hires first lobbyists Facebook, Twitter will testify at Senate hearing Schiff: Almost all RT ads on Twitter designed to push negative coverage of Clinton MORE (D-Calif.) called the order “a necessary part of responding to the proliferation of dangerous and economically devastating cyber attacks facing the United States.”

Obama’s order gives the Treasury Department more authority to impose sanctions on individuals or entities behind cyberattacks and cyber espionage. In practice, that would mean freezing targets’ assets when they pass through the U.S. financial system.

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“Cyber hackers and attackers, and the states that sponsor them, must know there are serious repercussions if they continue to engage in this destructive conduct,” Schiff said.

The move comes in response to the proliferation of hackers targeting Americans businesses, draining the economy of an estimated $300 billion to $500 billion a year.

U.S. officials have had trouble bringing cyber crooks to justice, because they often operate overseas in countries that do not have extradition treaties with the U.S.

“For far too long, these 21st Century culprits have acted with impunity; this must come to an end if we are to safeguard the nation's property, privacy and prosperity,” Schiff said.

Schiff has been a key player in trying to bridge the gap between privacy advocates and Republicans on cybersecurity legislation.

The GOP — and many Democrats — have urged Congress to pass a bill that would enable the private sector to pass more cyber threat data along to the government.

But civil liberties advocates in and out of Congress have hesitated. They worry the heightened sharing might embolden the government’s surveillance programs.

Schiff himself has come around on the issue. He voted last year against an Intelligence Committee cyber bill on this issue.

This year, he has been a main proponent of the panel’s new version, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, which passed out of committee unanimously last week.  

The Senate Intelligence Committee has also approved similar legislation.

“Coupled with cyber legislation moving forward in both houses of Congress, we can take meaningful action to stop this scourge,” Schiff said.

Both bills are expected to hit the floor in April.