REP LIEU PRAISES HFAC SUPPORT OF MEASURES TO IMPROVE STATE DEPARTMENT’S CYBER DEFENSES

May 9, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTONToday, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement after the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) passed the Hack Your State Department Bill, which he authored with Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), and the Global Engagement Center Authorities Act of 2018, which he coauthored with Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL). Both bills serve to improve State Department’s ability to counter foreign threats to the United States, which are increasingly occurring in cyberspace.  The Hack Your State Department Bill would strengthen cyber defenses for the State Department by tapping ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities in the Department’s networks and data systems. The Global Engagement Center Authorities Act would strengthen the GEC’s ability to address foreign propaganda and misinformation campaigns against the United States, including those conducted online.

 “Our democracy and democracies around the world are being threatened by malign foreign powers, but the Trump Administration continues to balk at the proven fact that hostile foreign actors are using misinformation campaigns to challenge our faith in American institutions. I’m grateful to be partnering with Rep. Schneider to strengthen the Global Engagement Center within the Department of State, because it will serve as a vital tool to counter Russian interference in our upcoming elections.

I’m also pleased by the excitement we’re seeing around ‘the Hack Your State Department Bill’ and want to thank Representative Ted Yoho for partnering with me on this bill. Congress is coming around to recognizing that cyber vulnerabilities pose a unique and pressing threat to our national security. For too long, our government has approached these dangers with outdated tools and techniques, sometimes coming short of safeguarding our country’s most sensitive information. By crowdsourcing and tapping into authorized hackers' skills and expertise, the State Department can move to the cutting edge of cyber defense.

I appreciate the support of my House Foreign Affairs colleagues in passing both of these bills in committee. I encourage my colleagues to bring them to the floor for a vote.”

Background on the Hack Your State Department Bill

Like the “Hack the Department of Homeland Security Act”, which Rep. Lieu introduced in 2017, this program will rely on a bug bounty system where authorized hackers can enter a State Department system, identify and disclose weaknesses and receive compensation. Additionally, it will establish a Vulnerability Disclosure Program to field vulnerabilities reported by the general public. The Trump Administration's 2017 Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization recommended that agencies establish vulnerability disclosure policies and set up private bug bounty programs.

Background on the Global Engagement Center Authorities Act of 2018

H.R. 5681, the Global Engagement Center Authorities Act of 2018, clarifies responsibilities for the GEC, expands its hiring authorities, and establishes stronger congressional oversight requirements. Specifically, the bill clarifies the purpose of the GEC as the leader of federal government efforts to address the threat of foreign misinformation, expands hiring authorities to ensure the GEC is properly staffed, and requires annual congressional briefings on the activities of the GEC. 

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