Providing for Consideration of H.R. 624, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

Floor Speech

Date: April 17, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the reading of the resolution. There are a lot of readings that you can waive on the floor of this House, but not so with a Rules resolution because this resolution is framing the nature of the debate we are going to have perhaps on the most important issue that we've taken up so far in this Congress.

The underlying bill is H.R. 624. It's the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

Whenever we start talking about cyber intelligence sharing and protection, folks often think that sharing and protection are oxymorons--you can't have protected sharing, and you can't have shared protection. It's not an easy nut to crack, Mr. Speaker. I don't sit on the Intelligence Committee, but I've been down to the classified briefings where folks are sharing details of the amazing successes that our teams, both domestically and abroad, are having and combating in cyber threats; but it's getting harder and harder every day, and we have to balance the national security implications of failing to address these threats with what we, as all Americans, love, which is our liberty here at home--our liberty here at home, our privacy here at home.

In order to try to crack that, Mr. Speaker, you'll know that we brought this bill to the floor in the last Congress, and it has been changed and improved since that time. Today, this rule makes in order an additional 12 amendments. Now, of course we'll have the traditional 1 hour of debate on the underlying bill, but there will be another 12 amendments, each debated--2 hours of total additional time--so that Members can have their voices heard. Of these additional 12 amendments, four of them were offered by Republican Members; seven of them were offered by Democratic Members; and one of them is a bipartisan amendment. But the rule is designed to allow that further discussion because of the very important nature of the underlying bill.

I rise, of course, in support of the rule to allow for that debate, and I rise in support for the underlying bill. In today's world, you don't have to have a battlefield full of tanks to wage war on your enemy. A nation-state can have a roomful of young computer scientists and a couple of computers and begin to be a threat to the largest, most democratically controlled country in the world.

How do we stop that, Mr. Speaker? Because we don't want to close our borders. We don't want to have Federal control over the Internet. In so many of these nation-states, the government does control the Internet. That's never going to happen here in America. That's not who we are. That's not what we're about. In fact, 10 private sector providers control about 80 percent of the networks here in America--as it should be.

But what can we do to make ourselves safer tomorrow than we are today? Here is what the underlying bill does, Mr. Speaker: it enables, for the very first time, businesses and governments to share information about the threats that they are facing.

If you go up the road to Maryland, where the NSA is operating today, there are some smart, smart folks there, and I'm glad we have every single one of them on the front lines of cyber warfare--protecting America, protecting American enterprise. Yet today, when they are aware of threats that are impending threats to our financial system, threats to our economic system, they can't share that information with the private sector.

Back in my home district, Mr. Speaker, we're home to UPS--the United Parcel Service--Delta, Home Depot. If those companies come under attack today, Delta can't share that information with American Airlines and say, Look at what has just happened to us. Be on the lookout. It might happen to you. Home Depot can't share with Lowe's today, This is what has happened to us. We want you to be on the lookout. Don't let it happen to you.

This bill changes that. This bill, for the first time, says in the name of defending America and American interests against cyber threats around the globe, you can begin to share with one another what your experiences are and opportunities to protect yourself from having that happen to you again in the future.

Now, the real important thing to me about this bill, and I will just hold it up for you, Mr. Speaker, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection aspect of this bill, it's the important part. It's the meat of this bill. It's what's going to allow us to be safer tomorrow than we are today, but the bulk of the words in this bill don't speak to the sharing in terms of enabling it. It speaks to the sharing in terms of restricting it. Page after page after page after page of this short, 24-page bill talks about how we as citizens must, must, must continue to be safe and secure in the privacy of our own information.

It's a four-step process the bill lays out, Mr. Speaker, in terms of how we can ensure that no personally identifiable information is being shared from Home Depot or Delta or UPS or any of the other folks who are out there on the Internet when they're sharing that with the government or with one another in order to prevent threats to American security or economic prosperity, to ensure that personally identifiable information is not a part of that information that's shared, because privacy is paramount.

I've been tremendously impressed through this process, Mr. Speaker, because I'm one of the folks who is most likely to be suspect when we start talking about sharing information with the government. I'm a big lover of liberty. There's not many things I'm willing to give liberty up for. In fact, I dare say there's not a one that I'm willing to give liberty up for.

But the Intelligence Committee, from which this bill came, has worked with Members month after month after month after month to ensure that privacy is protected, that we as citizens can be secure. At the same time that we're fighting threats that perhaps we're not allowed to talk about on this floor, we're protected from threats that each and every one of us experiences in our day-to-day lives--a threat to privacy.

It's not been easy to craft this bill, and it has been an incredible bipartisan effort throughout, Mr. Speaker, in order to put this language together. Again, we have four Republican amendments made in order by this rule, seven Democratic amendments made in order by this rule, and one bipartisan amendment made in order by this rule. It is my great hope that we can move forward today with this rule, with debate on the underlying bill, and move forward with something that is far, far, far overdue, Mr. Speaker, and that's protecting America--American business and American individuals, American citizens--from the threats posed by nation states through cyber warfare from abroad.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute to say I know my friend from Colorado's concerns are heartfelt, and he shared those last night in the Rules Committee. The gentleman has a great deal of experience in this industry. And as heartfelt as his concerns are, I know, too, equally heartfelt are his concerns to national security if we fail to come together and address this issue.

I would like to be able to say, Mr. Speaker, that when we pass this bill today, it's going directly to the President's desk for signature. I don't actually believe that to be true. I think it's a long process between now and getting it to the President's desk for signature. And I know the gentleman will be raising these concerns throughout that process.

But I just cannot emphasize enough, Mr. Speaker, the dangers to the liberties of the American people of failing to begin this process today. I'm very proud we're allowing 12 amendments today to work through the concerns that the gentleman has, among others. But the importance of beginning this process today cannot be overstated.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 60 seconds to say I agree with my friend, that the private sector is often in the best position to get the work done that we're talking about in this bill.

I would refer my colleague, Mr. Speaker, to the Intelligence Committee's Web site--it's you can see the long list of those private sector actors who are supporting this bill here today, that long list of folks in the private sector responsible for the security of their firms, of the information that Americans have entrusted to them, asking this body to move forward with this bill today.

There's no question, Mr. Speaker, when you're dealing with something of the magnitude of the national security threats posed by cyber warfare and the privacy protections that everyone in this body is committed to, that you're going to end up with conscientious men and women on both sides of this issue. But it is important to note that the private sector--which is being bombarded each and every day with threats from nation-state actors overseas--is asking, pleading with this body to move forward with this bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 60 seconds again to say to my friend from Colorado that I know his concerns are heartfelt; but he knows, as I do, there's nothing that we can do in statute here today that would trump any of our civil liberties that are protected under the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution of the United States of America trumps all.

What we're doing here today, Mr. Speaker, is responding to a very serious national security threat, and we're doing so in a way that can give Americans great comfort that their civil liberties are every bit as protected today as they were yesterday. In fact, Mr. Speaker, in that these nation-states are hacking into these accounts and accessing our personal information every single day, I would tell you that we will actually have our privacy more protected in the presence of a secure Internet than we do today, as nation-states are frequently eroding our cybersecurity border here in the United States of America.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I thank my friend from Florida for his service on the Rules Committee and his service on the Intelligence Committee.

The work that goes on in the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Speaker, is work that so many Members of Congress do not involve themselves in. It goes on deep in the bowels of the Capitol Complex. It's under great security, all electronic devices left outside the door, so that they can discuss things within the four walls of that committee that we're not allowed to discuss here on the House floor.

In fact, when they asked me to handle the rule today, Mr. Speaker, I was a little concerned because throughout this process of developing CISPA, I traveled down to that committee room time and time again in order to understand the threats that this Nation is facing, understand the challenges that this community of intelligence professionals is grappling with around the globe, and I don't want to be the one who shares those stories here on the House floor by mistake. I don't envy the gentleman from Florida having to balance being in that committee every single day, trying to protect the security of every single citizen, and not being able to come out of that committee room and share with, not just your colleagues here in the House, but your constituents back home, why it is you're doing the things that you do.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, what would have happened in World War II if we had to keep the bombing of Pearl Harbor a secret? It's a secret. Nobody knows. What do you think the support would have been, Mr. Speaker, for taking affirmative action in World War II? It would have been hard to generate that support. I would have voted ``no.''

There are things going on in this Nation and in this world today, Mr. Speaker, that our Intelligence Committee grapples with, that our intelligence professionals grapple with, things that are frightening, and things that threaten the liberty of this country and the economic security of this country. Now, I don't want to be a fear-monger, Mr. Speaker. What I love about this country is no matter what the challenge is, we are great enough collectively to rise to meet it.

In this case, we happen to need to rise to meet it in a subject matter that is near and dear to the heart of every American, which is my Internet privacy. I care a lot about Internet privacy, Mr. Speaker. I've got a VPN system set up so nobody is listening in on my Wi-Fi. I change my password about every 10 days to make sure nobody is making any progress towards hacking my system. I'll occasionally go on the Internet and use one of those anonymizers to make sure my IP address isn't being tracked when I'm looking at things that perhaps my friends in Congress, I'm trying to get a bill done, I don't want you to know I'm getting that bill done. Who knows what those people down in HIR, House Information Resources, what they're tracking that we do here? We have tools available to us in that way, Mr. Speaker.

But do you know who I can't outsmart? Perhaps I can outsmart my next-door neighbor who wants to piggyback on my Wi-Fi system. Perhaps I can outsmart the guy at the hotel who is trying to piggyback on my information there in the hotel room. Perhaps I can even outsmart the U.S. House of Representatives. But what I can't outsmart is that team of cyber warriors gathered by nation-states around the globe who are hacking my information and your information every single day, stealing our intellectual property, stealing our military technology, threatening the privacies that we've talked so much about here on the floor today.

I'm very glad, Mr. Speaker, that as you page through this bill, you will find line after line after line aimed at protecting your and my privacy. I think we do a good job of finding that balance. We even will offer amendments today on the floor to do even better. But without security at the Internet border, I have no protection of my privacy because those agents of the state of China, North Korea, and beyond are accessing that information today.

Mr. Speaker, it's been 18 months that we've been working to craft that balance of privacy and security. We'll continue to work on that throughout 12 amendments here today. I urge my colleagues, look through this resolution, look through H.R. 624 to see the efforts that have gone into crafting this bipartisan piece of legislation; and look at those 12 amendments, look at those 12 amendments that we'll have an opportunity to vote on over the next 2 days to make this bill even better. But the time for delay, Mr. Speaker, has passed us, and the cost of delay is most certainly measured in dollars, and I fear it is measured in lives.

Let's move forward with this bill today, Mr. Speaker. I urge strong support for the rule, and I urge strong support after the debate of these 12 amendments on the underlying legislation.