Monday, October 19, 2015

Committee Hearings – Week of 10-19-15

Both the House and Senate are back in Washington this week after their Columbus Day Recess (excuse me; ‘district work session’). There are three hearings currently scheduled that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog; two cybersecurity related hearings and one terror threat briefing.


The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on Wednesday looking at “Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety”. The discussions will be centered on a committee draft of new automotive safety legislation that includes a title specifically addressing cybersecurity issues.

The witness list includes:

• Mitch Bainwol, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
• John Bozzella, Global Automakers
• Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator, NHTSA
• Greg Dotson, Center for American Progress
• Maneesha Mithal, Federal Trade Commission
• Mark Rosekind, Administrator, NHTSA
• Peter Welch, Automobile Dealers Association
• Ann Wilson, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association

I don’t typically review legislation before it is introduced, but I’ll give a brief overview of the cybersecurity provisions of this bill. Title III of the bill is called “Privacy, Hacking Prohibition, and Cyber Security”. Section 301 establishes privacy rules for information collected by privately owned motor vehicles. Section 302 prohibits hacking (access without authorization) “an electronic control unit or critical system of a motor vehicle, or other system containing driving data for such motor vehicle, either wirelessly or through a wired connection”. And §303 establishes the Automotive Cybersecurity Advisory Council that does not include anyone from ICS-CERT (or DHS in general) or security researchers.

Please note that none of the witnesses has any cybersecurity background so it is unlikely that we will hear anything of real substance about cybersecurity at this hearing; other than, of course, please leave our systems alone.

The other cybersecurity related hearing is before the Energy Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday. That hearing will address “Cybersecurity for Power Systems”.

The witness list includes:

• Bennett Gaines, CIO, FirstEnergy Service Company
• Annabelle Lee, Electric Power Research Institute
• Brent Stacey, Idaho National Lab
• Greg Wilshusen, Government Accountability Office

There is a better chance of a technical discussion at this hearing.

Terror Threat

The House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a hearing looking at “Worldwide Threats and Homeland Security Challenges” on Wednesday.

The witness list includes:

• James B. Comey, Director FBI;
• Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary DHS;
• Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center

No actionable intelligence, of course; just an overview of the cruddy state of the world.

On the Floor

There is one bill that is scheduled to come to the floor of the House this week that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog; HR 3350, the Know the CBRN Terrorism Threats to Transportation Act. It will be considered on Tuesday under suspension of the rules. Again, this means limited debate and no floor amendments. It also means that it is likely to pass with bipartisan support. It passed in the Homeland Security Committee on a voice vote without amendments.

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