Congress developing new cybersecurity policies

Last month, congressman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) held a hearing on cybersecurity regulations, promising to write legislation to create an office – potentially within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – to review and streamline all cyber rules across government.

The Washington Examiner writes that “if such legislation does emerge, it could become one of the chief vehicles for addressing cyber policy.” However, Johnson isn’t the only congressperson working to develop new cybersecurity policies.

Committees address cybersecurity

The House Homeland Security Committee under Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) has held ten cybersecurity-related hearings since the beginning of 2016. In June, the committee approved a markup of its cyber-heavy DHS reauthorization legislation. The bill calls for a new, government-wide cyber risk assessment program and targets specific problems, such as insider threats.

McCaul has been a leading figure in congress regarding cybersecurity. The Washington Examiner reports that he hosted a cybersecurity forum last month that covered a range of policy issues, from national defense and deterrence to the security status of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

At about the same time, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held three hearings that discussed cybersecurity, the House Intelligence panel held a hearing as part of the Russia hacking probe, and the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on election security.

Election security, and the implementation of online voting in particular, have been heavily criticized for their potential to be hacked. Bruce Fein of the Washington Times says the system is “high[ly] vulnerable to hacking and manipulation by cyberspace clowns, partisans, enemies, or all three.”

Fein calls for congress to invoke its power under Article I, Section 4 of the US Constitution to require the use of paper ballots or electronic voting machines in federal elections. With plenty of activity in congress regarding cybersecurity, and President Trump’s apparent concern over voter fraud, the issue could well appear on an agenda soon.

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