Congressman Brian Baird Introduces Computer Security Bill (H.R. 3316)
U.S. Rep. Brian Baird (WA) of the Science Committee introduced legislation on Friday, November 16th, to secure the nation's information infrastructure. Original cosponsors of the legislation are all Science Committee Members: Jim Matheson (UT), Mark Udall (CO), and Mike Honda (CA). Baird's bill, the Computer Security Enhancement and Research Act of 2001 (H.R. 3316), will establish a new research and development program on computer and network security at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
"We need to engage the best minds in our country to re-examine every aspect of security. I've introduced legislation to protect our drinking water, cosponsored legislation to improve airline security, and this bill will help protect our information infrastructure," said Baird.
Baird developed his legislation following a series of hearings before the Science Committee in which numerous expert witnesses testified that research into computer security is woefully inadequate and our information networks are extremely vulnerable to attack.
Baird's bill will train new graduate student and post-doctoral research assistants, and attract seasoned researchers to the field of computer security. Baird stated, "Right now, we don't have enough people doing research on protecting networked computer systems. At the same time, more and more of us rely on these systems for basic services like electricity and financial transactions."
"My bill addresses this problem by creating a larger and more vibrant basic research enterprise in computer-related security fields," added Baird. The Congressman said that his bill could yield improved technology to track people that attack websites, better technology to secure Internet-based transactions, and cheaper ways of protecting databases that are accessed via the Internet.
Baird's bill charges the National Institute of Standards and Technology with implementing a substantial program of research support based at institutions of higher education designed to improve the security of networked information systems. Although awards are to universities, the research projects may involve collaborations with for-profit companies that develop information security products. "The bill will provide needed research and funding to an industry that is hurting economically. I'm hopeful that this bill will move quickly," said Baird. This research program is authorized for a 10-year period, growing from $25 million in the first year to $85 million by the fifth year.
Congressman Mike Honda, an original cosponsor of the legislation, added, "Securing our nation's information infrastructure will require a new generation of information technology security specialists." Honda, who represents Silicon Valley, also observed that "Congress must act swiftly and deliberately to pass the Computer Security Enhancement and Research Act, legislation that will bolster university IT security programs, strengthen the technology sector of our economy and enable us to design and implement 21st century protections for our nation's computer networks."