Clear and present danger to our future prosperity

Clear and present danger to our future prosperity
News of major cyberattacks affecting the American economy appear almost daily, whether as mass theft of credit information from retailers, Iranian-linked penetration of U.S. banks or China’s systematic theft of anything it can grab.

To address this urgent problem, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and I introduced legislation last year to allow the government and the private sector to voluntarily share anonymized cyber threat information so companies can better protect their own networks from cyberattacks. Timely approval of information-sharing legislation with robust privacy protections is as important to our economy as ever.

When hackers working for Chinese intelligence services steal American intellectual property, they take good, high-paying American jobs right along with it. When stolen information is handed off to Chinese companies, those companies receive an unfair competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Just as important, many of the same vulnerabilities used to steal trade secrets can also be used by countries like China and Iran to disrupt critical infrastructure, such as electric power or transportation systems, that our families and employers depend on every day.


Most companies are already working hard to make their networks more secure. However, they are often hindered by a lack of information about what attacks other American companies are experiencing and how best to cope with those attacks. U.S. companies that would like to share cyber threat information with other entities in the private sector or government are often prevented or deterred from doing so by a host of policy and legal barriers. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) would help remove those barriers.

Last year, I also introduced a bill with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) to crack down on the hackers that China or other foreign governments use to conduct economic cyber espionage. The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act, H.R. 2281, sends a clear message to offending nations that this behavior will not be tolerated and we will no longer simply look the other way.

Our bill calls for the Department of Justice to bring more economic espionage criminal cases against offending foreign actors. The bill also would deny foreign agents participating in cyber crimes from applying for visas to enter the United States and would shine a bright light on these criminals for other nations.

Last spring, with the House passage of CISPA, the introduction of the Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act and growing calls to confront China for its rampant theft of American trade secrets, momentum was growing to address a clear and present danger to America’s future prosperity. Unfortunately, that momentum stalled after the illegal and damaging leaks of sensitive national security information by a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor.

The press coverage of these selective and misleading disclosures has led some to mistakenly believe that there is a moral equivalence between China’s economic espionage campaign and the NSA’s lawful collection of foreign intelligence to defend against national security threats such as terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is prohibited from conducting industrial espionage and does not do it. And I know of no member of Congress who seeks to change that prohibition.

Since I have been in Congress, I have watched American manufacturing jobs disappear in my home state of Michigan in part because of the Chinese government’s blatant theft of American companies’ valuable intellectual property. China’s theft affects every industry in Michigan and around the country.

The two cyber bills I have authored will finally give our companies a fighting chance to protect their valuable intellectual property from these attacks and would help protect Americans’ most private information online. These two bills are not a cure-all for our nation’s cyber vulnerabilities, but they are vital steps toward providing better, common-sense protection for the networks and systems that Americans depend on every day.

Some believe that we should stand back and do nothing to address this threat that is costing our economy hundreds of billions of dollars and countless jobs. We should not shirk one of Congress’s most crucial constitutional responsibilities — providing for the common defense — simply because a former contractor stole and selectively leaked classified information about lawful intelligence programs.

Rogers has represented Michigan’s 8th Congressional District since 2001. He is chairman of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.