House committee approves cybersecurity standards bill

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee last week approved the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011, which mirrors legislation passed last year by the House, but that never made it to the Senate, according to a report by the National Journal.

The bill is sponsored by Texas Republican representative Michael McCaul, who believes that the cyber threat is an issue that will unite people across the political spectrum.

McCaul, who also sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, expects the bill to be debated by the full House after the August recess.

If enacted, the bill will authorize research, education and the development of standards at the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It also gives NIST the authority to set standards for federal agencies.

According to McCaul, provisions to authorize NIST to work with private businesses to develop voluntary cybersecurity standards may be included at a later stage, but he is waiting for more research on the matter.

"I think this amendment goes in the right direction," he said after the hearing. "The big debate we will have is, do we regulate or do we help give incentives to businesses to protect their systems?"

This story was first published by Computer Weekly

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