House Passes Cyber R&D Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009 by a vote of 422-5.

The bill reauthorizes the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s (NIST) unclassified network security and computer programs. The bill is designed to enhance cooperation on federal and private cybersecurity research and development projects.

“This is an important first step,” said Committee Member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). “Every critical infrastructure is tied to cyber networks whether it be our utilities, power grids, financial institutions, air traffic controllers. Virtually every sector is vulnerable. I hope as with 9/11 we don’t turn a blind eye and have a denial of service attack before we address this issue.”

Additionally, the bill prioritizes cyber R&D, coordinates the United States’ position and representation in the international arena and looks to strengthen the cyber workforce.

“We are all aware that the importance of cybersecurity has grown dramatically in recent years, as most of the critical systems upon which we depend–from telecommunications to electricity to banking and commerce– rely on secure and reliable computing,” said Ralph Hall (R-TX), Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member. “I also want to note my appreciation for what this bill doesn’t do. It avoids calling for any activities that could amount to being regulatory in nature, which could actually be counterproductive to security.”

Back in November 2009, the House Science and Technology Committee reported the bill out of committee unanimously.

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