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Senate Commerce Approves Violence, Cybersecurity Bills

The Senate Commerce Committee favorably reported out
cybersecurity and violence research bills backed by Committee chairman Jay
Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chair of the committee, as well as by cable and
broadcast interests.

The bills, the Violent Content Research Act of 2013 and the
Cybersecurity Act of 2013, now go to the Senate for a vote.

"Our country's information networks are under attack,
and I am glad this Committee is showing bipartisan leadership in addressing
this threat," said Rockefeller at the hearing. As for the violence
research bill, which he signaled in the days following the Sandy Hook school shootings,
he said, "I strongly believe that we need to address all components of gun
violence if we have a fighting chance at protecting our families and
communities. This includes studying the levels of violence in the video games
our children play and the media they watch. Recent court decisions have shown
that we need to do more so that Congress can lay additional groundwork on this

The Violent Content Research Act of 2013 requires the
National Academy of Sciences to direct the Federal Trade Commission, Federal
Communications Commission and Department of Health and Human Service to study
the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children and
figure out if there is a causal connection between either and real-world

The National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable
& Telecommunications Association and the Motion Picture Association of
America all issued statements in advance of the violence bill's passage saying
they supported the research.

The cybersecurity bill essentially backstops the president's
order directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to oversee a
voluntary cybersecurity framework and provides for more cybersecurity public
education, workforce training and research. The bill's emphasis on voluntary,
the fact that the president had already mandated the framework, and the focus
on training and education made the bill palatable to industry. But industry
players continue to say they will also need legislation on info sharing and
liability in order to make a cybersecurity protection plan work.

Among the groups on the record backing the
cybersecurity bill, according to a committee source, include NCTA, CTIA: The
Wireless Association, USTelecom and National Association of Manufacturers.