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China Case Hits Amid Increased Interest in Senate Bill
Posted at 2:04 p.m. on May 19
“This is the new normal,” Robert Anderson, executive assistant director of the FBI, said Monday about the Justice Department’s indictment of Chinese army personnel on charges of hacking into U.S. companies’ networks. “This is what you’re going to see on an ongoing basis.” A case of this magnitude and diplomatic sensitivity all but guarantees that industrial espionage will become a higher-profile issue on Capitol Hill, but it’s harder to say whether a large-scale cybersecurity bill, specifically, can gain any momentum.
As CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta writes, legislation intended to strengthen “information sharing between the private sector and federal agencies” has been stalled for years because of concerns “how much of a regulatory role government could play.” Shared information, however, did play a big part in this case, Margetta writes: “Officials said investigating the alleged hackers took extensive cooperation with the victimized companies. Eventually, they said, they were able to track the suspects to a single building in China.” Targets mentioned in the indictment include U.S. Steel, Westinghouse and Alcoa.
If a broad cybersecurity bill remains tough to move, it might be possible for Congress to advance legislation that focuses directly on industrial espionage. Margetta notes that Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have circulated “draft legislation aimed at stepping up enforcement against such theft, and Whitehouse says they plan to introduce the legislation soon.” At a Senate hearing last week, the FBI expressed support for the legislation.