The Complex

Langevin to reintroduce cyber security legislation in 2013

Congressional Cyber Caucus chair, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), plans to reintroduce cyber security legislation aimed at creating minimal IT security standards for utility, transportation, finance, and communications companies.

The Rhode Island lawmaker, who also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, plans in the next year to reintroduce his cyberspace executive authority act, a bill from 2010 aimed at giving the executive branch more power in regulating IT security standard for so-called critical infrastructure providers.

"I will reintroduce my cyberspace executive authorities act," Langevin told Killer Apps during a Dec. 13 interview. "It will give regulatory authority to the Department of Homeland Security or other regulatory agencies to regulate critical infrastructure."

In addition, the bill would "create a Senate-confirmed position for the White House Cyber Coordinator." The bill would elevate the White House cyber security coordinator's position to director of the what would be a new office, the National Cyberspace Office, with the power to veto federal agencies' IT security budgets as well as the power to establish minimal security standards for federal agencies.

In the meantime, Langevin said he will continue to push for whatever he can get when it comes to legislation aimed at protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attack, noting that he is most concerned about attacks against U.S. power companies.

"The electric grid is what I'm concerned about most, that's where the most damage can be done," said Langevin. "You can understand, if a whole nation or sector was without power for several weeks or months in the dead of winter how that could create great damage to our economy or create loss of life."

"There are attempts to hack into the electric grid all the time, and other areas of critical infrastructure. Everyday it's happening, at some point someone's going to get lucky," he added.

The Senate recently failed to pass a cyber security law sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that would have established minimal cyber security standards and encouraged information sharing between critical infrastructure providers and the Department of Homeland Security. 

"I will continue to work with the majority here on our side, even if that's getting several smaller bills passed through the Congress, and I'll continue to push for broader cyber security legislation like what Lieberman and Collins were trying to do on the Senate side."

When asked about critics who say that even minimal cyber security standards will place unnecessary burdens on businesses, Langevin said, "They have their heads in the sand."

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