Committee on Science and Technology
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Member Speeches :: February 3, 2010

Subcommittee Chairman Wu's Floor Speech on H.R. 4061

as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4061, which will improve our nation's cybersecurity by supporting research and development and the creation of usable technical standards.
 
Cybersecurity is a critically important issue, and I commend Chairman Gordon for bringing this legislation to the floor today.
The recent cyberattack perpetrated against Google and other American companies is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities we face in an electronically interconnected world.
 
More and more of our personal information is making its way online.
 
Everything from traffic systems and air traffic control to manufacturing and banking depends on Internet networked systems.
 
Within the Science Committee, the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee, which I chair, has been exploring ways that the National Institute of Standards and Technology's expertise in information technology can be used to advance the administration's goal of securing cyberspace.
 
Twenty-two years ago, the Science and Technology Committee paved the way for federal cybersecurity efforts with the Computer Security Act of 1987, the first of 13 major laws related to cybersecurity.
The 1987 bill charged NIST with developing technical standards to protect non-classified information in federal computer systems.
 
H.R. 4061 improves on these ongoing efforts by implementing recommendations made in the Cyberspace Policy Review and in a hearing my Subcommittee held last October.
 
The Cyberspace Policy Review and witnesses at our hearing stressed the importance of increased coordination as the federal government works on international technical standards, an education and awareness campaign for all internet users, and improved identity management systems.
 
NIST has a leadership role to play in all three of these critical efforts.
 
The U.S. government must better coordinate its efforts in international cybersecurity technical standards development because these responsibilities are currently parsed among different agencies without any consistent policy.
 
A coordinated policy will ensure U.S. representatives operate with the overarching need of our American infrastructure in mind.
 
Witnesses testified before the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee that NIST is suited for the role of coordinator due to its extensive technical expertise, established relationships with international bodies, and the fact that it is a non-regulatory body.
 
Experts also called for a cybersecurity awareness and education campaign.
 
While NIST can be a valuable resource for Internet users by providing consumers with the same guidance it gives federal agencies, witnesses have noted that NIST guidance is often too technical for the average Internet user.
 
The legislation before us today tasks NIST with developing a plan to make its standards and best practices usable by those with less technical expertise.
 
In doing so, H.R. 4061 will help raise the base level of cybersecurity knowledge among individuals, businesses, and government.
 
We also know that cybersecurity cannot be improved without first improving identity management.
 
Today’s bill builds upon NIST's ongoing work on identity management systems, such as biometrics, by tasking NIST with improving the interoperability of these systems to encourage more widespread use.
By focusing on the usability and privacy aspects of identity management, H.R. 4061 will encourage greater confidence among the general public that their personal information will be secure.
 
Madam Speaker, securing cyberspace should be a primary concern for all of us moving forward.
 
We cannot stand by and let the most powerful tool for connecting Americans with each other and the world remain the Wild West of technology.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 4061 so that our communities and our constituents can be secure in the knowledge that they are safe when they go online.
 
Thank you, I yield back the balance of my time.


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