U.S.-Israeli cyber ties would deepen under bills passed in House

(FEMA / Bill Koplitz)

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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bills aiming to strengthen collaboration on cybersecurity research and development efforts between the United States and Israel.

H.R. 5877, the U.S.-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 and H.R. 5843, the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016  both passed unanimously Tuesday and now await action in the Senate, according to a news release from their sponsors — Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and Jim Langevin, D-R.I. The bills’ chances in the Senate are unclear, given Congress’ goal of finishing its work by mid-December.

The two bills were introduced in July, after the lawmakers visited Israel on a congressional delegation focused on key cybersecurity issues facing both countries, such as protecting power grids from hackers.

“Israel is a vital strategic partner, and I’m pleased to be working closely with Rep. Langevin to preserve and strengthen this important bond through joint cybersecurity efforts,” said Ratcliffe, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.

“I’m hopeful this legislation will serve as a solid foundation for a sustained cybersecurity partnership [with Israel] as we look to address new and evolving cyber issues moving forward,” he added.

“My trip to Israel with Congressman Ratcliffe was an illuminating experience, and reinforced my belief that our countries have much to learn from one another when it comes to cybersecurity,” said Langevin, co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

“Nations share many cybersecurity problems with the private sector, but they do have distinct national security challenges in cyberspace that they must address. Our legislation will further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities,” he added.

The U.S.-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act would expand a successful binational research and development program at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency to include cybersecurity technologies. This collaboration between DHS and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security helps new products through the “valley of death” between basic and early-phase applied research and successful commercialization, and will help both countries develop solutions to the unique security problems found in the cyber domain.

The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act would create a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development ventures between Israeli and American companies. The Homeland Security secretary would determine research requirements with help from an advisory board made up of members from successful U.S.-Israeli partnerships.

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Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Israel
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