Cybersecurity has been top of mind for legislators in the United States, with two different House panels giving a green light to bills that would allow the State Department to implement a bug bounty program and ensure increased security for critical infrastructure in the energy sector.

It’s hardly a secret that there are weaknesses in the digital systems of several federal agencies, which is why Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ted Yoho (R. Fla.) co-sponsored the “Hack Your State Department Act.” The House Foreign Committee approved a bipartisan bill that would allow security researchers to search for flaws in the State Department’s digital systems.

The bill, introduced on 21 March, highlights the federal government’s efforts to enhance cybersecurity. Approved 9 May by the House panel, the bill will now go to the full House for a vote. If approved, the State Department will have one year to establish a Disclosure Program (VDP), which will set the parameters for responsible disclosure. The VDP will also include State Department procedures for fixing reported vulnerabilities.

According to The Hill, Lieu said the VDP provision “sets clear rules of the road so that when people outside the department discover vulnerabilities on systems, they can report it in a safe, secure and legal manner with the confidence that the department will actually fix the problems.”

Modeled after the highly successful “Hack the Pentagon” program established by the Defense Department, the pilot bug bounty program will reward ethical hackers for discovering vulnerabilities.

Additionally, a House Energy and Commerce Committee approved several pieces of legislation to secure critical infrastructure across industries in the energy sector.

“The bipartisan proposals are designed to bolster the Department of Energy’s cybersecurity efforts. One, for instance, would establish a new program at the department focused on the security and cybersecurity of energy pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities,” The Hill reported.

The actions of both committees affirm the commitment to improving security across digital systems and throughout the nation’s critical energy assets.

In related news, Senate Democrats have moved to force a vote on net neutrality. Led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) a contingency of senators submitted a petition under the Congressional Review Act to restore the rules of the 20 Open Internet Order.

According to The Verge, “The resolution has gained significant support from the internet community.” On Wednesday Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy and other sites put up Red Alert banners as part of a day of action intending to boost petitions in support of the resolution.



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