Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter •  Volume 2, Number 11  • Summer 2006

Cyber Security Status: Comments Heard on the Hill

Democratic Senators Fight for Personal and Government Data Security

On July 13th, the anniversary of the day that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff created the yet unfilled position of Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications, CSIA was invited to join Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy, Charles Schumer and Bill Nelson to call for greater government leadership on cyber security. Jay Foley of the Identity Theft Resource Center participated in the event as well.

Senator Leahy:
"millions of Americans
now… have to worry
about… their personal


Senator Schumer:
"Our own government is
asleep at the switch…"


Senator Nelson:
"If we don't act now,  
none of us will have any
privacy left."


Paul Kurtz:
"U.S. government
on cyber security
is AWOL."


The participants called attention to the recent breaches at government agencies such as the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Energy, State, Defense, Health and Human Services, the Federal Trade Commission, and Federal Bureau of Investigation that have put the personal information of millions of Americans at risk, and the electronic security of our nation in doubt.

"The escalating reports of the breaches of sensitive, personal information are becoming an unwanted new worry for every American, and many of these cases are occurring within the federal government," said Senator Leahy.

"Because of this Administration's recklessness and incompetence when it comes to data security and its refusal to admit and learn from its mistakes," Leahy continued, "millions of Americans — including our veterans and our active-duty service members who are risking their lives on battlefields around the world — now have to worry about whether their personal information and the personal information of their loved ones is safe. That is not something they should have to worry about."

"We can't ask the private sector to put safeguards in place while our own government is asleep at the switch," Senator Schumer said. "These incidents show a pattern of complacency at the highest levels of government and an inability to tackle one of the greatest privacy and economic issues of our time. The bottom line is, what bank robbery was to the Depression Era, ID theft is to the Information Age."

"The longer Congress waits to take action on identity theft legislation, the more harm to American consumers, businesses and national security," Senator Nelson said. "If we don't act now, none of us will have any privacy left."

Paul Kurtz focused his remarks on the lack of government leadership reflected in both the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to fill the Assistant Secretary post and Congress’ inability to agree on a nationwide standard to protect sensitive personal information.

"U.S. government leadership on cyber security is AWOL. As a result, we are simply not ready for a major disruption to our information infrastructure," said Kurtz. He urged Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement on a national data security and breach notification bill this year.

He added, "We must all understand what is at stake here – digital systems underpin our national and economic security and a major disruption to – or widespread lack of confidence in – these systems could have a devastating impact on our citizens, our economy and our security. There is a real urgency here. We are living on borrowed time as we await action."

The event was attended by both Congressional staff and members of the press.