Ruppersberger happy to see progress on Senate cybersecurity bill

Wednesday - 10/9/2013, 6:11pm EDT

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)

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One member of the House is happy to see the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee making progress toward finalizing its version of the cyber sharing bill.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, has worked closely with committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and their Senate counterparts, Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D- Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), on passing cybersecurity legislation.

"We know that when we pass bills in the House that they go nowhere unless the Senate passes the bill and the President signs it," Ruppersberger told In Depth with Francis Rose Wednesday. "Feinstein, Chambliss, Rogers and I have been working together for the last two terms on all of the intelligence issues, including counterterrorism, cyber issues, that type of thing. So, the longer we wait, the worse it gets as far as cyber attacks and protecting our country from destructive attacks."

The U.S. Cyber Command estimated the nation has lost more than $3 billion in trade secrets in the last three years due to cyber attacks.

"Mostly China attacking our businesses, learning how we make things, how we manufacture," Ruppersberger said. "We must move forward in the cyber law that we introduced and passed in the House."

The House passed its version of the cybersecurity bill in April, which provoked a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The White House objected to the National Security Agency being the place where cyber-threat information would be shared. Amendments to the bill switched that responsibility to the Department of Homeland Security.

Ruppersberger acknowledged the incident involving former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden has raised people's concerns about cybersecurity and privacy.

"So much has happened in the media that is not true," Ruppersberger said. "So, it's up to people like myself to educate the public that the NSA is not breaking the law. They've made a couple of mistakes, not many. ... They're being overseen by Congress, by the courts. And we're doing whatever we can do to pass more laws to have other groups oversee them."

Regarding NSA's collection of people's meta-data, he explained that the data collection was limited to phone numbers and the length of duration of calls.

"It's not an address or anything of that nature," Ruppersberger said. "But this is the way we protect us from future 9-11s. If we would've had this program, we would've known that the person coordinating the attacks was in the United States. And we didn't know that at the time. I'm not saying we could've stopped it, but we would've had a good chance of stopping it if we would've known that."

Because of the leaks from the Snowden case, people do not have as much trust in the NSA or intelligence agencies

"I'm working on trying to develop some new laws to be more transparent to let people know that the people who work every day at NSA are just as heroic as our military, that they get up every morning trying to find and stop the bad guys from attacking us," Ruppersberger said. "That they're not violating any laws. That they're not listening to people's phone conversations, and yet, people perceive that they are. So, we have a challenge to turn that around."

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