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National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Plan Clears House Subcommittee

On January 15, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies passed the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, H.R. 3696. The legislation is intended to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks and would codify the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) authority to act as a central hub for the sharing of cyber threat information between the private sector and the federal government.

The bill would require DHS to create new programs designed to aid in the efficient sharing of cyber threat information between the government, private entities, and organizations that own or operate critical infrastructure. While DHS would provide recommendations for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure based on the data gathered through this information sharing, the bill explicitly prohibits the agency from requiring these organizations participate in the information exchange or adopt any of the agency’s recommendations. The language in the bill also prevents any new regulatory action or authority at the Department of Homeland Security.

H.R. 3696 is sponsored by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Committee Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee Yvette Clarke (D-NY). It is unclear if or when the full Homeland Security Committee will take up the legislation.  The bill has also been referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

While involvement is voluntary under the bill, if it is ultimately signed into law, the information shared and the practices established could become the standard expectation for for those who own or operate critical infrastructure and possess or maintain Protected Critical Infrastructure Information. Other government contractors, private sector organizations, or state government entities could also be affected.  EDUCAUSE will continue to monitor the legislation.

More on H.R. 3696 can be found here.

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