Bernie Sanders on Cybersecurity

The threat of cyberattacks, both domestic and abroad, pose a serious risk to the United States. Cyberattacks have already cost the U.S. government significantly, and American businesses suffer billions more in losses every year. Cyberattacks may also be “the greatest threat to U.S. national security,” as America’s “critical infrastructure” is vulnerable to attack.

While the importance of cybersecurity is clear, tough legislation has yet to be enacted. Bernie believes in balancing the need for cybersecurity with protecting the rights and data of American citizens.

Threats to the Nation

Cyberattacks pose a real danger to the United States.

A recent cyberattack may have affected over 22 million Americans, and reminds us how vulnerable our government really is to cyberattacks.

How much of a threat is there? Are there that many cyber attacks?

While the recent loss of U.S. federal employee data was one of the largest government data breaches in history, it is by no means the only case. Since 2006, the United States has seen a steady increase in the number of cyberattack incidents against U.S. government agencies and corporations. Due to increasing cyberattacks in recent years, President Obama published new guidance on cyberattacks, allowing the administration to diplomatically punish governments that allow hacking of U.S. networks. Governments suspected of hacks include North Korea, Russia and China.


What is Bernie doing to fight cyberattacks?

Bernie has expressed concern over the vulnerability of U.S. cybersecurity, but also over mass surveillance. Bernie voted for the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 only to have Republicans defeat it due to concerns of over-regulation. Bernie would support discussing the Protecting Cyber Networks Act; however, this bill has major privacy concerns and has been subject to political games instead of discussion.

What does Bernie say about the cybersecurity threat?

“Our nation’s national security and economy face unprecedented threats from cyber-attacks, and it is important that we defend ourselves as best we can while, at the same time, protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.” Bernie

Bernie seems concerned with not only security but privacy as well. Should we really worry about government surveillance and privacy?

Most Americans agree that “it is unacceptable for the government to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens.” In addition, Bernie is concerned about the Constitutionality of programs that access the information of American citizens.

Legislative Issues

The United States needs to pass legislation to improve the overall cybersecurity of the nation.

When Bernie supported the cybersecurity bill in 2012, he made it clear that vulnerabilities in the cyber realm were a national security threat and that new legislation ought to be passed. Nonetheless, a filibuster in the Senate prevented cybersecurity legislation from being passed.

Where does Bernie stand with cybersecurity legislation?

Bernie voted “Yea” on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 long before the most recent cyberattacks against the United States. Bernie foresaw the dangers facing the U.S. in the cyber realm and, in 2012, voted to secure the country’s networks.

Why haven’t we passed these laws? Is it Bernie’s fault?

Bernie voted for the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and it got shut down by a Republican filibuster. Bernie noted at the time that against this threat, “it is important that we defend ourselves as best we can.” However, republicans were worried the bill would “allow for too much government regulation.”

What about the Protecting Cyber Networks Act?

There are concerns about this bill and its potential impact on the privacy of Americans. Unfortunately, discussion has been delayed and even cut off by Republicans as they added the bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 hoping to get Bernie and other Democrats to vote for it. He and others voted no on the NDAA for various defense spending reasons, but also because they are not satisfied the Protecting Cyber Network Act will make sure to protect our networks as well as our privacy.

Privacy or Security?

Privacy is too important to the American people to not take into consideration.

With knowledge of mass surveillance taking place, Bernie and others have expressed concern over the power given to the government in regards to our privacy.

What has Bernie said in regard to cybersecurity legislation and privacy?

When the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was in motion Bernie said, “I worked hard with a number of colleagues to make sure that language in the bill would protect the Constitutional rights of the American people.”

While discussing that legislation, Bernie said the bill must defend our country while simultaneously “protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.”

Is Bernie alone when it comes to this?

No. In April of 2015, a group of computer engineers and industry professionals wrote a letter regarding the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, stating that “waiving privacy rights will not make security sharing better” and that “sharing users’ private information creates new security risk.”

Do citizens agree with Bernie on cybersecurity and privacy?

The Washington Post found that the majority of adults believes the NSA intrudes when conducting surveillance on American telephone records and internet traffic. Both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly find this as a violation of their rights. Bernie has shown he wants to pass cybersecurity legislation while protecting Americans right to privacy. Republicans must allow these concerns to be met.