Senate Dem plans 'botnet' bill for 2015

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks Liability shield fight threatens to blow up relief talks MORE (D-R.I.) thinks the 2015 landscape will be friendly to his bill combating hackers who remotely take over millions of computers to launch attacks.

“I think it’s got a very, very good chance,” he told The Hill following a Bloomberg Government event Tuesday.

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Whitehouse sees these remotely compromised computers, known as "botnets," as a growing threat.

Hackers use botnets to clandestinely control people’s computers, either as a cover for their own identity or to create an army of computers that can simultaneously launch massive amounts of spam on the hacker's behalf.

As head of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Whitehouse worked on the issue through 2014 with the subcommittee’s ranking member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The subcommittee held a hearing on botnets in July, shortly after the Justice Department announced it had cleaned up what it called “the most sophisticated criminal botnet in existence worldwide” — Gameover Zeus.  At the hearing, Whitehouse said he was working on a bill.

“Working with Sen. Graham, I think we’ve got a very good bipartisan bill,” Whitehouse said Tuesday.

The duo initially targeted the lame-duck session, but Whitehouse is now setting his sights on 2015.

The GOP will be less inclined toward obstructionism after assuming control of both chambers in 2015, he explained.

“Republicans are going to be less interested in blockading themselves and will be looking for bipartisan bills,” Whitehouse said.