OVERNIGHT TECH: Napolitano to testify on cyber mission

THE LEDE: The House Homeland Security Committee is examining the Department of Homeland Security's roles and responsibilities when it comes to protecting the country's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks during a Wednesday hearing.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be on hand to testify before the committee on the department's cyber capabilities and mission.

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In a statement, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the hearing will be dedicated to examining the cyber threats facing the United States and also "explore how Congress can build upon the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to prevent cyber attacks in a way that promotes U.S. commerce, while not hindering its expansion."

McCaul is currently crafting legislation that aims to improve coordination between private companies and the government to better protect key infrastructure from cyberattacks. The Homeland Security chairman has started to meet with stakeholders for their input on the bill. The committee tweeted that McCaul had a "great convo" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on cybersecurity on Tuesday.

In addition to Napolitano, the committee will hear from a second witness panel that includes industry representatives and a legislative counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The witnesses include Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI); Anish Bhimani, chairman of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center; Centerpoint Energy Chief Information Officer Gary Haynes; and Michelle Richardson from the ACLU's Washington office.

The ACLU has argued that the Department of Homeland Security should be the lead hub for intelligence-sharing efforts about cyber threats between government and industry. As a civilian agency, the ACLU notes that DHS is subject to more accountability than a military agency like the National Security Agency.

In his testimony, ITI's Garfield will argue that the lead agency in charge of intelligence-sharing efforts should "build on existing government resources so as not to create new redundancies and confusion." He will also call for safe harbors to be included in cyber information-sharing legislation so private companies are protected from lawsuits or regulatory actions if they share cyber threat data with the government.

Napolitano will also testify during a cybersecurity hearing jointly held by the Senate Commerce and Homeland Security and Governemental Affairs committees. Other witnesses include Patrick Gallagher, director of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology; Greg Wilshusen, director of information security issues at the Government Accountability Office; and Dow Chemical Company Chief Information Officer David Kepler.

UPDATE: The hearing has been postponed until further notice due to weather concerns.

Sen. Whitehouse wants tougher penalties for cyber espionage: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) says international hackers should face tougher penalties for stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Monday, Whitehouse noted that current guidelines suggest zero to six months in prison for first-time offenders.

"Such limited sentences are inappropriate considering the damage caused by the theft of trade secrets by cyber means," Whitehouse wrote.

The Sentencing Commission has the authority to raise penalty guidelines for trade secret theft when the secret is transmitted overseas.

“Using malware or various exploits to misappropriate the proprietary information that is the lifeblood of our economy, foreign agents, criminal organizations and individual hackers cost American companies tens of billions of dollars each year,” Whitehouse wrote.

Lofgren re-introduces Net freedom bill: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would create a task force dedicated to protecting Internet freedom. Under the bill, the task force would identify and respond to policies proposed by governments or international bodies "that deny fair market access to Internet-related goods and services, or that threaten the technical operation, security, or free flow of global Internet communications," according to a bill summary.

Members of the task force would include a mix of government officials and non-government employees. The task force would hold public hearings and coordinate the U.S. government's response to threats to freedom on the Web. Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) are co-sponsors of the bill.  


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Lawmakers look to legalize cellphone unlocking:  Numerous lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said on Tuesday that they want to pass legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was the first to introduce a bill on the topic, formally offering the Wireless Device Independence Act.

The actions come one day after the White House endorsed cellphone unlocking and said it would support "narrow legislative fixes" to legalize the practice. The White House made its statement in response to an online petition that gathered more than 114,000 signatures.

Google reveals data on secretive FBI subpoenas: Google revealed statistics on Tuesday about the number of secretive national security requests for user data it receives every year from the FBI.

The company said that for each of the past four years, it has received fewer than one thousand of the requests, known as National Security Letters. Those requests covered data on between 1,000 and 1,999 user accounts, except for 2010, when the requests covered between 2,000 and 2,999 accounts.

Despite wide support for high-skilled immigration reform, H-1B visas called into question: The merits of the H-1B temporary worker visa program were called into question during a Tuesday hearing on high-skilled immigration held by the House Judiciary Committee's Immigration subpanel.

While lawmakers and members of the witness panel all agreed that the existing immigration rules for highly skilled and educated workers are in need of reform, the hearing revealed that some skepticism remains over the H-1B visas.

Senate to hold FCC oversight hearing: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday afternoon to examine the policies of the Federal Communications Commission. All five commissioners are scheduled to testify.

Sen. Schumer: Congress won't pass stand-alone high-skill immigration bill: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told an audience of technology lobbyists on Tuesday that Congress would not pass immigration legislation if it only deals with high-skilled workers.
 
"You will not get a bill unless there is a full immigration bill," Schumer said at a Capitol Hill event hosted by The Internet Association, a lobbying group representing Facebook, Google and other Web companies.

House to hold hearing on public safety network: The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing next Thursday morning to examine the construction of the nationwide broadband network for first-responders.

Congress set aside radio frequencies and funding for the network, called FirstNet, as part of tax cut extension legislation last year. The network, which will allow first-responders from different agencies to communicate with one another, was one of the last outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.


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