Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter • Volume 2, Number 2 • October 2005

Congressional Spotlight:
Representative Fred Upton (MI-6)

About Representative Upton

Born: St. Joseph , MI, April 23, 1953

Elected: 1986 (began 10th term in January 2005)

Education: University of Michigan , BA, 1975

Committee Assignments: House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Chairman, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet; Subcommittee on Health; Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Career: Congressional Aide, Budget analyst

Notable: Rep. Upton is a member of the House High Tech Working Group, the House Internet Caucus, and the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

Biography: In the House of Representatives, Fred is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is currently chairman of the powerful Telecommunications Subcommittee. Regarded as one of the younger, more active members of Congress, he is widely seen as a perfect fit for this chairmanship of this important subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over newly emerging high-tech issues such as telemedicine, broadband deployment, and the wiring of America's classrooms for Internet technology. Fred is currently working to update our telecomm laws — bringing the laws up to speed with emerging technologies. He sees these issues as vital to continued economic growth in America.

Ever cognizant of his roots, Upton has brought his small-town, Midwestern values to bear in Washington. Fred has been a leading advocate for children in Congress. He coauthored legislation to create a kid-friendly area on the Internet, safe from obscene material and child predators. Fred has also been working to clean up the public airwaves, writing legislation to raise the fines the FCC can levy for indecent material aired over broadcast TV and radio during the family hour.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Every time we sit down in front of our computers to surf the Internet, we are susceptible to a variety of predators and viruses, ranging from the inconvenient to the criminal. From child sex predators to Spyware and identity theft, trouble is always one click away. It is essential that every individual and family with a computer is aware of the many dangers lurking on the information superhighway.

As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, I am particularly concerned with the proliferation of cyber-related crime and the seeming lack of public awareness.

The unfortunate reality is that while the Internet has opened up a whole new world of learning for our kids, it has also opened up a new world for sexual predators. The statistics are startling – of the estimated 24 million child Internet users, one in five has received unwanted sexual solicitations. As a father of two, I know first hand that a little knowledge of our kids’ activities while surfing the net goes a long way in protecting them from online predators.

Several years ago, I co-authored, and President Bush signed into law, legislation creating the “.kids” domain, the first-ever “safe playground for kids” on the Internet. At its heart, Dot Kids is like the children’s section of a library, a place where parents can send their kids and know that they will be protected from the inappropriate material which is otherwise abundant throughout the entire web.

Dot Kids is also a place where kids can play and learn on-line without having to worry about on-line predators who lurk in the dark shadows of chat rooms. Parents need to know how they can protect their kids online. That will enhance the value of the Internet as a learning tool for the whole family.

We also have the responsibility to instill a sense of “cyber ethics” in our youngsters – to teach them what behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate for interacting with other people online. Despite the anonymous nature of the web, our kids must know that hacking, writing or spreading viruses, plagiarizing, downloading copyrighted music or videos, copying CDs and software, or pulling online pranks such as smearing another student are wrong and will not be tolerated.

Spyware is also a severe problem that threatens the efficiency of our computers and Internet services as well as the security of our personal information and private transactions. Spyware enables companies and individuals to monitor Internet activities and sometimes makes it possible to gather personally identifiable information, including passwords and credit card numbers. When users surf the Internet, they often unintentionally download invasive spyware. Just visiting a web site can sometimes result in a “drive-by download,” meaning the spyware is installed on the PC simply by clicking on a website.

The House passed the SPY Act to crack down on spyware and protect consumers and I am hopeful that the Senate soon will follow suit to ensure that consumers nationwide are protected from these malicious practices.

Although October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, cyber security should always be foremost in our thoughts, not just one month out of the year, but each and every day.