Jul 31 2018

Graham, Whitehouse, Blumenthal Introduce Bills To Prevent Hostile Nations From Undermining American Democracy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), introduced two bipartisan bills that would improve cybercrime prevention and bolster the United States’ election infrastructure.

As recommended in the Attorney General’s recent Cyber Digital Task Force report, the International Cybercrime Prevention Act – led by Senator Graham – would give federal prosecutors new tools to fight cybercrime, including the ability to shut down networks of compromised computers – known as “botnets” – that Russia and other hostile actors use to spread disinformation and create chaos, including large scale cyber-attacks. The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act – led by Senator Blumenthal – would make it a federal crime to hack any voting systems used in a federal election. The bipartisan group of Senators is also working to provide clarity on the application of federal law to individuals with insider access to electronic systems, as well as the valuable contributions of security researchers to cyber security.

“Russian interference in the 2016 election exposed just a small piece of our adversaries’ cyber capabilities,” said Graham.  “Seeking to undermine American democracy and our standing on the world stage, hostile nations like Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea work every day to develop new cyber weapons to deploy against the United States.  Both pieces of legislation provide the Department of Justice urgently needed tools to shut down the digital infrastructure used by cybercriminals and to prosecute those who hack our critical infrastructure.  Congress should act quickly to pass these bills to help protect us from Russian interference in the 2018 election, and from the broad array of other state-enabled cyber threats.”

“Our intelligence and law enforcement officials warn us that the likes of Vladimir Putin are renewing their attacks on our democracy.  We face cyber threats to our elections, financial institutions, businesses and critical infrastructure, as well as to citizens’ personal information.  It’s more important than ever to help law enforcement harden our cyber defenses,” said Whitehouse, the author of bipartisan cyber recommendations for the Trump administration, and comprehensive cyber legislation in previous congresses.  “I am happy to join Senators Graham and Blumenthal to introduce these bills.”

“The disclosure of renewed cyber attacks against Congress and disinformation campaigns demonstrates that Russia is undeterred in its ambition to undermine America’s democracy and critical infrastructure—and that we are woefully unprepared to prevent or stop them. The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act and the International Cybercrime Prevention Act will better equip the Department of Justice to fight back against hackers and foreign governments that intend to interfere with our democracy and disrupt our economy,” said Blumenthal.  “With the midterm elections in less than 100 days, Congress cannot afford to wait. Our bills show that securing the nation’s elections and cyber infrastructure can be a bipartisan cause, and I urge my colleagues to quickly pass this long overdue measure.”

The International Cybercrime Prevention Act would: 

  • Give prosecutors the ability to shut down botnets and other digital infrastructure that can be used for a wide range of illegal activity
  • Create a new criminal violation for individuals who have knowingly targeted critical infrastructure, including dams, power plants, hospitals, and election infrastructure
  • Prohibit cybercriminals from selling access to botnets to carry out cyber-attacks

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act would:

  • Allow the Department of Justice to pursue federal charges for the hacking of any voting system that is used in a federal election