Especially in weeks like this one, we know all too well that we live in an unsafe world. As your Member of Congress, I do all I can to protect those in the 12th Congressional District and across our country. I take that responsibility very seriously.
While technology has expanded and improved our world in a million different ways, it has also made us more vulnerable.
In 2009, cyber hackers – who were suspected to be from China – broke into the Pentagon’s system and stole design and electronic-systems data on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. As a result, the cyber spies gained highly sensitive information that makes it easier for our enemies to defend against the aircraft.
The Air Force’s air-traffic-control system has also been infiltrated. As has the U.S. electrical-distribution system and other areas of infrastructure. In fact, America is hit with an average of over five cyber attacks per hour every day of the year.
Businesses, who want to protect their intellectual capital, have also come to me with concerns about our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure. These cyber attacks allow our enemies to gain access to sensitive corporate research and development information, hurting U.S. business interests and American jobs.
In an effort to strengthen our nation’s cyber network, today I voted in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) of 2013, which passed with broad support from both Republicans and Democrats. This legislation allows classified cyber threat intelligence to be shared between the Intelligence Community and the private sector. This legislation is critical to our nation’s security online.
As with most issues of security, there are questions about privacy. I understand your concerns and I want to assure you that as this legislation has evolved in the last year, Congress has worked with civil liberties groups to incorporate additional privacy protections. These additions ensure the legislation can only be used as it is intended: to protect you online.
For example, we made sure that there were meaningful limits put on the government’s use of private information. We made the government responsible for any damages, costs or fees if CISPA’s use was violated. And we made sure the bill would be automatically repealed after five years, forcing Congress to have another debate on our cybersecurity and update the bill as necessary.
I wanted to highlight one more critical privacy measure that was included: all shared cyber information from the public sector will first be sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), rather than an intelligence agency. DHS – a civilian agency – is then responsible for forwarding on any threatening information to the appropriate intelligence organization, ensuring only relevant information makes it into the hands of our intelligence officers. This provision was very important to conservative leaders, civil liberties groups, and the President.
Before voting on CISPA, I sat down with the House Intelligence Committee. They told me that while no details of a recent classified cybersecurity briefing could be revealed, there is no question that CISPA is necessary to our nation’s continued security. The Committee also emphasized that we are in a crisis situation and that the passage of CISPA is a necessity. I have never received such a strong urging to vote a particular way on a bill.
Fellow Texan and Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul is a cosponsor of this important legislation. Rep. Mac Thornberry, who spearheaded the House Cyber Security Task Force last Congress, is another Texan whose input on this issue I respect. He also supported CISPA today.
With so much of what we do every day online, I believe it is critical for our safety and the nation’s to allow private businesses to voluntarily cooperate with the government when it comes to stopping cyber attacks. After carefully weighing both sides of the debate, I voted in favor of CISPA because it is right for the security of our nation – both today and in the future.
I appreciate all of the comments and information I have received from across the district on this issue. Please continue to reach out to my office with any concerns, comments or questions.
Member of Congress