Rep. Jim Himes warned business leaders about cyber threats and stressed the need for a cybersecurity bill at a MetroHartford Alliance event Thursday, attended by all members of the Congressional delegation. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Himes was at the center of discussion on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that recently passed the House of Representatives.
Himes said the Intelligence committee was “spending a lot of time” on the issue. “The threats are very real,” he said, mentioning cyber attacks on water and power utilities.
CISPA would make it easier for the federal government to obtain information on cyber threats, allowing private companies to share cyberthreat data with the federal government. The proposed legislation has drawn significant criticism from privacy advocates who argue that it would amount to unwarranted surveillance and violate Fourth Amendment rights.
“It’s a voluntary regime. The government will not say…that you must share that information,” said Himes. The White House has threatened to veto the legislation if it does not sufficiently address privacy concerns.
“The United States must update our cybersecurity laws, but we will not sacrifice our values in the process,” the White House wrote, in response to a “We The People” petition to “Stop CISPA.”
Himes echoed that sentiment, signaling the House will be going back to work on a cybersecurity bill.
“We are in the process right now of balancing how we can get industries to provide information…without unduly risking or violating the peoples’ privacy or without exposing industries to lawsuits,” he said.