The Complex

House intel committee working with White House to avoid another CISPA veto

The leaders of the House intelligence committee say they are working with the White House to ensure passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which fell to a presidential veto threat last year but which Chairman Mike Rogers' (R-Mich.) reintroduced yesterday.

The bill would establish rapid information-sharing about cyber threats between private businesses and the government. Last year, the White House threatened to veto it over concerns from privacy groups that the bill gave the government too much authority to view people's online activities without a warrant.

"We were working with the White House for one year, and we thought everything was going to be fine," Dutch Ruppersburger, the committee's ranking member, said yesterday in a joint appearance with Rogers. "Fifteen minutes before we went to the rules committee, we received a phone call that the president was going to veto our bill."

"We've resolved all that," he added. "We're working with the White House as of today. Mike [Rogers] and I talked with the national security advisor [Tom] Donilon and the White House is now working with us to ensure that somehow, some way, we get a bill."

Rogers was a little more cautious, telling reporters yesterday that White House "does not endorse the bill" as it stands right now and that negotiations over its contents are ongoing. "They want to see changes in the bill, but that's a long way from where we used to be," said Rogers. "We're actually having a dialogue on how the bill moves through, I welcome that, that's a good thing." 

Ruppersburger and Rogers repeatedly emphasized during a Capitol Hill hearing today that the bill will not infringe on privacy, and that CISPA only authorizes the government and private companies to share digital threat signatures, "ones and zeros" that make up packets carrying malware.

It does not allow the government to not "monitor your computer, read your email, tweets or Facebook posts," Ruppersburger said yesterday.

The two lawmakers also said they are committed to working with privacy advocates on the bill.

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The Complex

Rogers: U.S. must confront China on cyber theft and espionage

The U.S. government must confront China about its cyber attacks against United States-based companies, said House intelligence committee chair, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)

"We need direct talks with China and it needs to be at the top of a bilateral discussion about cyber espionage," Rogers told Killer Apps after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday. "This is a problem of epic proportions here and they need to be called on the carpet. There has been absolutley no consequences for what they have been able to steal and repurpose to date."

Rogers suggested that the U.S. begin implementing trade sanctions and "identifying individuals who participate in this, go after their visas, go after family travel, all of the levers we have at the Department of State, the problem is that bad."

Rogers comments come as U.S. officials are reported to be preparing a National Intelligence Estimate detailing the scope of cyber espionage and theft committed against the U.S. by China. Late last month it was revealed that hackers, possibly based in China, had penetrated the networks of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Last October Rogers' committee accused Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE of spying on U.S. businesses for the Chinese government. Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger (D-Md.) urged U.S. companies not to do businesses with Huawei or ZTE.

U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly said that China has stolen billions of dollars worth of intellectual property from the United States. U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, has called this theft the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

Defense contractors working on the U.S.'s mainstay fighter jet for the 21st Century, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter suffered a cyber breach believed to be executed by Chinese-backed hackers in 2007 and 2008. In late 2012, China unveiled its second stealth fighter, the J-31 -- a plane that bears a striking resemblance to the F-35.

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