House Passes Rep. Castro’s Cybersecurity Bill

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(June 3, 2016 – Jennifer Ortega) On May 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Representative Joaquin Castro’s (TX-20) bill intended to strengthen the country’s cyber defenses and protect local communities from cyber attacks. The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, H.R. 4743, allows non-profits including higher education institutions to work closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and address risks and incidents at the local and/or state level.

As explained in Castro’s press release, the bill would authorize DHS to work with relevant consortia to:

  • Provide training, develop and update curriculum, and provide technical assistance to State and local first responders and officials specifically for preparing for and responding to cybersecurity risks and incidents;
  • Conduct cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises for entities, including State and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and private industry, to encourage community-wide coordination in defending against and responding to cybersecurity risks and incidents;
  • Help States and communities develop cybersecurity information sharing programs for the dissemination of homeland security information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents; and
  • Help States incorporate cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing State and local emergency plans.

Additionally, the bill would require DHS to reach out to institutions of higher education on opportunities to support the department’s efforts.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 394 to 3.

Jen Ortega serves as a consultant to EDUCAUSE on federal policy and government relations. She has worked with EDUCAUSE since 2013 and assists with monitoring legislative and regulatory proposals across a range of policy areas, including cybersecurity, data privacy, e-learning, and accessibility.