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House Bill Defines TV, Radio as 'Critical Infrastructure'

House Democrats have introduced three bills that would involve the FCC in a host of new cybersecurity protections and responsibilities and one that would establish radio and TV broadcasting, as well as cable satellite and other communications networks, as "critical infrastructure."

The Cybersecurity Responsibility Act, introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), would require the FCC to adopt rules on cybersecurity protections for communications networks. It defines those networks as "for the provision of wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, direct broadcast satellite service, or any other communications service."

The FCC would have 180 days "to secure communications networks through managing, assessing, and prioritizing cyber risks and actions to reduce such risks."

The Interagency Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, from Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), would create an interagency committee (actually the FCC would be charged with doing so) to review cybersecurity incidents, recommend investigations into such incidents, and report on the results, including with any policy recommendations.

Engel's bill was prompted in part by what he called Russia's "tampering" with the election.

The Securing IoT Act, introduced by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), would require that the FCC come up with cybersecurity standards for IoT devices, in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“Our networks and devices are the hub of our digital lives. They can make our lives better and our economy stronger, but only when they are secure,” said ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) of the trio of bills. “I commend my Democratic colleagues for proposing new approaches to protecting consumers from the growing barrage of cyber-attacks, especially from state-funded actors.  These bills would ensure that Americans do not have to choose between innovation and security.”

It is unclear what the fates of those bills will be in the Republican-controlled Congress, but cybersecurity is a bipartisan concern.