House panel approves cybersecurity bill

The House Homeland Security Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a bill to secure the federal government and critical infrustrature elements from cyberattacks.

The bill — H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, backed by Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity — would push the Department of Homeland Security to strengthen and codify it cybersecurity standards for the federal government and critical infrastructure networks.

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McCaul cited the varied support for the bill, including members in both parties and privacy advocates. The bill "establishes equal cybersecurity partnerships between private industry and DHS, while ensuring Americans’ civil liberties are protected," he said.

“We cannot wait for a major attack to take action, and I am pleased that the Committee today unanimously passed legislation that improves DHS’s ability to defend against the many threats to our critical infrastructure."

Responding to the vote on his bill, Meehan pointed to the recent series of high profile data breaches at major U.S. retailers, impacting the sensitive financial and personal information of millions of Americans.

“Target, Niemen Marcus, and now White Lodging, which manages hotel franchises for chains like Hilton and Marriot — it seems that almost every day we hear news of more American consumers victimized by cyberattack,” he said in a statement.

“It’s only a matter of time before our power grids or financial networks are the latest victims of hackers.”

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