House panel approves bill to call out, sanction nation-state hackers

House panel approves bill to call out, sanction nation-state hackers
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The House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill designed to call out and punish foreign actors for executing nation-state-sponsored cyberattacks that threaten U.S. national or economic security.

The legislation, offered by Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoGOP lawmaker cites 'herd immunity' when asked why he's without face mask GOP sees groundswell of women running in House races GOP lawmaker introduces bipartisan guest worker bill MORE (R-Fla.), would direct President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE to sanction designated “critical cyber threat actors” who help carry out foreign-sponsored attacks, though it offers him the power to waive sanctions if doing so is in the best interest of the United States.

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The committee passed an amended version of the bill in a voice vote Thursday morning, before lawmakers left town for the July Fourth recess, kicking it to the full House for a vote. The measure boasts a list of bipartisan co-sponsors.

Specifically, the legislation would require Trump to designate foreign individuals or entities who are “knowingly responsible for or complicit in, or have engaged in” state-sponsored cyberattacks that threaten U.S. national security, foreign policy, economic security or financial stability as critical cyber threat actors. The designation would also apply to foreign individuals or entities that have provided material support for malicious cyber activities targeting the U.S. 

The president would be required to publish a list of these threat actors in the federal register. An exception is made for those who the president deems should remain secret for national security or law enforcement reasons, though Trump would still need to report the names to Congress in classified correspondence.

The bill would then direct the president to impose sanctions on these threat actors and lays out a variety of economic-related sanctions that could be used to punish these entities. 

Trump would be able to waive sanctions as long as he certifies to Congress that such a waiver is in the interest of U.S. economic or national security, law enforcement or humanitarian purposes. 

Yoho first introduced the bill in April. Currently, there is no companion legislation in the Senate.