Cybersecurity legislation unlikely this year unless president steps in, says Rep. Dan Lungren

Congress isn't likely to pass cybersecurity legislation this year because the private sector is skeptical of government involvement and many Americans don't understand the urgent need for it, a lawmaker working on the issue said Sept. 18.

"It does not look like we are going to get cybersecurity legislation at the very time that it is most essential," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), said in a keynote address to the annual Defense Systems Summit.

Lungren, chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, said there's little public pressure for action despite widespread evidence that hackers, including foreign intelligence agencies and criminal gangs, are increasingly targeting computer networks.

"It is not an obvious concern, it is not an obvious crisis, it is not an obvious threat," he said.

Lungren helped write cybersecurity legislation that failed in the House because of concerns it would lead to overregulation by the federal government. The House later passed a less-ambitious measure, but the issue remains stalled in the Senate.

He said a draft executive order on cybersecurity being prepared by the White House may be a positive step forward but not a long-term substitute for laws aimed at minimizing the damage caused by hackers. Such laws could more effectively address concerns about privacy and liability, he said.

"The very things that attract us to the cyber world in our everyday lives are the very things that make us vulnerable," he said.

"It's not just a domain of warfare. It is a domain of everyday living."

About the Author

Charles Hoskinson is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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