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Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats

Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats
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A Senate committee on Wednesday advanced legislation aimed at securing government-purchased devices against cyber threats, a move that comes just weeks after a companion bill moved forward in the House.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved by voice vote the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act, a measure designed to establish cybersecurity standards for federal devices that are connected to the internet. 

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Under the legislation, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would be charged with creating the guidelines and the Office of Management and Budget would inform agencies of the security standards to make sure that IoT devices purchased are consistent with the NIST standards.

IoT devices include those with internet connections and those that are able to send and receive data, such as laptops and mobile phones.

The bill's lead sponsors are Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBiden signs executive order to improve federal cybersecurity Overnight Defense: Former Pentagon chief to testify about Capitol riot Wednesday | Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (D-Va.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), the co-chairs of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus.

Warner said in a statement following the vote that the Senate committee took “an important step forward” in securing government IoT devices by approving the legislation, and that this could encourage the establishment of minimum cybersecurity standards for IoT devices outside of government.

Gardner said he “looks forward to it being swiftly signed into law.”

The bipartisan companion bill in the House was approved by the Oversight and Reform Committee earlier this month.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee also advanced the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act during the same markup Wednesday. That bill, introduced Tuesday by ranking member Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Top Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles MORE (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCarper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Fudge violated the Hatch Act, watchdog finds House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (R-Ohio), would promote stronger cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments.

Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHouse passes bill mandating accommodations for pregnant workers Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-N.Y.) plans to introduce a House version of the measure, though the timing for that is unclear.