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Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today sent a letter to the White House calling on President Obama to take action to protect government and private sector computer networks from cyber attacks and espionage.

Text of the letter follows:

August 28, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500 

Dear Mr. President:

I strongly agree with your recent comments that urgent action is needed to defend U.S. government and private sector computer networks from cyber attack and espionage. Because our critical infrastructure, our financial hubs, and our ability to defend the Nation are at risk, we must take action to address these vulnerabilities as soon as possible. I therefore urge you to issue an Executive Order, or take other appropriate action, to advance the cybersecurity of our Nation’s critical infrastructure.

As one of the lead co-sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, I was part of numerous negotiations with other Senators, Executive Branch officials, the Chamber of Commerce, and privacy and civil liberty organizations prior to the current Congressional recess. Despite good faith efforts to reach a compromise and major concessions on our part, those opposed to the legislation were able to defeat progress on the bill. While efforts to reach consensus continue, I fear that the Congress will be unable to pass meaningful cybersecurity legislation this year.

Therefore, I believe the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy and the networks we depend on from future cyber attack. While an Executive Order cannot convey protection from liability that private sector companies may face, your Administration can issue cybersecurity standards and provide technical assistance to companies willing to take voluntary steps to improve their security. You can also direct the Intelligence Community and the Department of Homeland Security to provide as much information as possible to the private sector about cyber threats, including classified information.

These are meaningful, if limited, steps that can be taken now. The threats to our national and economic security are simply too great to wait for legislation. 

I look forward to working with you to provide any assistance I can offer as you consider this decision.


Dianne Feinstein