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Bills Would Strengthen Cybersecurity Collaboration, Especially with Israel

Two important pieces of “bipartisan” legislation which would increase the sharing of cyber threat information and intelligence with “key international partner, Israel” and enhance cybersecurity capabilities through research and development and strengthening cyber cooperation were passed by the House.

HR 5877, the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), calls on promoting cooperative homeland security research and counterterrorism programs relating to cybersecurity.

This bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of State, to enter cooperative programs with Israel to enhance capabilities in cybersecurity through:

  • The international cooperation program established by DHS’s Under Secretary for Science and Technology to enter into cooperative research activities with foreign partner governments that are allies in the global war on terrorism, and
  • The Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA).

The pilot project designation is removed from HSARPA’s cooperative research programs with Israel for border, maritime and aviation security; explosives detection; and emergency services.

The international cooperative activities report submitted every five years by the Science and Technology Homeland Security International Cooperative Programs Office would be required to contain: a status update on the progress of such international cooperative activities identified in the previous reporting period; and a discussion of obstacles encountered in forming, executing or implementing agreements for such activities.

HR 5843, the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), would establishe a grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to promote cooperative research and development between the United States and Israel on cybersecurity.

This bill would require DHS to establish a grant program to support cybersecurity research and development, and the demonstration and commercialization of cybersecurity technology, in accordance with the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the State of Israel on Cooperation in Science and Technology for Homeland Security Matters, dated May 29, 2008, or a successor agreement.

Grants could be awarded for social science research and technology intended to identify, protect against, respond to and recover from cybersecurity threats.

To be eligible for a grant, a project must be a joint venture between: for-profit, nonprofit or academic entities (including US national laboratories) in the United States and Israel; or the governments of the United States and Israel.

Grants shall also be awarded only for projects considered unclassified by both the United States and Israel.

DHS would be required cost sharing of at least 50 percent from nonfederal sources for grant activities, but it may reduce the nonfederal percentage if necessary on a case-by-case basis.

DHS would also have to establish an advisory board to monitor the impartial scientific and technical merit method by which grants are awarded and provide periodic reviews of the actions taken to carry out the program.

The grant program would terminate seven years after the bill’s enactment into law.

In the House Committee on Homeland Security announcement, lawmakers behind the bills jointly stated, “Cybersecurity is a top national security challenge and an issue Congress continues to grapple with.”

“Israel is a world leader in cybersecurity and innovation, and these bills strengthen a cooperative partnership with a critical ally in the Middle East,” said committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX). “I applaud increased collaboration with partners around the world to enhance joint efforts of countering cybersecurity threats. We must continue to leverage innovative solutions and enhance strategic partnerships to better secure our digital domain. I commend the work of my Committee—and Ratcliffe and Langevin’s leadership in particular—on getting these important cybersecurity measures across the finish line.”

The committee noted that, “Earlier this year, Ratcliffe and Langevin traveled to Israel to meet with their cybersecurity counterparts to discuss how the US can collaborate with Israel on cybersecurity efforts moving forward,” and that “the two bills that passed the House are areas in which they identified we can do more to increase our partnership.”
 

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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