House technology subcommittee clears cybersecurity bill

Bill was drafted to meet a need for more coordinated oversight.

The House Science Technology Subcommittee easily approved a bill Wednesday designed to streamline and strengthen government oversight of the nation's electronic infrastructure, including computer and telecommunications networks.

The bill, currently a committee print, was drafted to meet a need for more coordinated oversight and regulation of security issues on the Internet. It passed on a voice vote with no opposition. Of particular importance, committee members said, is streamlining cyberspace security standards to keep information safe from computer hackers.

"The convergence of telecommunication, Internet, and video devices requires a corresponding convergence in cybersecurity technical standards development," said Science Technology Subcommittee Chairman David Wu, D-Ore. "A coordinated policy will ensure that these representatives operate with the overarching need of the U.S. infrastructure in mind."

At a hearing a few weeks ago, witnesses suggested that the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology be the coordinator, and the legislation reflects that sentiment.

Technology Subcommittee ranking member Adrian Smith, R-Neb., also supported the bill and praised Wu's cooperative spirit in drafting it. He said the bill calls for coordination between the United States and other countries, improved dissemination of "best practices" in cybersecurity, and research into management of identity issues -- with an eye toward preventing identity theft.