House panel approves critical infrastructure cybersecurity bill

The Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness (PRECISE) Act, introduced by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), would require DHS to conduct an evaluation of cybersecurity risks to critical infrastructure and determine the best mitigation methods.

The legislation, which was passed Wednesday by the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee, also establishes the public-private National Information Sharing Organization (NISO), which would facilitate development of cybersecurity best practices, provide technical assistance, and enable the sharing of cyberthreat information across critical infrastructure and with the federal government.

The PRECISE Act, based on draft legislation the subcommittee examined at a hearing in December, reflects recommendations of the House Republican cybersecurity task force in that it emphasizes voluntary incentives for companies to improve cybersecurity.

At the same time, the bill provides some solace for Democrats in that it tasks DHS with responsibility for overseeing civilian cybersecurity efforts. The bill includes one Democratic co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who introduced his own bill early last year that called for an expansion of DHS authority over private critical infrastructure networks.

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