Chuck SchumerU.S. Senator Class 3
[D] New York, United States

Length: 11 minutes, 32 seconds

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Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, first, I wish to salute my colleague from Delaware. We have a number of people in this body who will take on the very tough issues--issues, frankly, that can only succeed when there is bipartisan agreement but that are deep and complicated and take day after day, week after week, even month after month of effort--and there are not many who can craft that type of legislation. The Senator from Delaware is one of them. He did it on the postal bill. He is doing it here on cyber security. I believe on both of them he will have ultimate success, and we thank the Senator. We thank him for his good work.

Now I would like to discuss the cyber security bill. I am very hopeful that we will pass a bill that will find a good and workable balance--one certainly that ensures that our critical infrastructure has the most effective countermeasures to prevent cyber attacks but one that will also encourage our dynamic technology industry to continue to innovate, and protect freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet.

Let me remind my colleagues that the Internet was originally developed as a way for universities, governments, and companies to collaborate on research and other projects. The whole purpose of the Internet was meant to stimulate the open exchange of ideas, and as a result it has changed the world. We have seen it in Egypt, in Russia, in China. We have seen the Internet--people's ability to communicate, unfettered by government or other strong forces--create huge amounts of power--good power, positive power.

Just ask the entrepreneurs who developed whole new ways of selling products and developing services about how the Internet was made to stimulate the open exchange of ideas. It has given the opportunity to someone with an idea to actually take that idea and turn it into a business because it so reduces the transaction costs of doing so. Just ask the inventors and creators who have fostered new means of expression, allowing us to communicate in real time, efficiently and inexpensively, with our colleagues all over the world.

I am an efficiency bug. I like to use ``I am a busy fella.'' I love the work I do, and I like to use it as efficiently as possible--the fact that I can have a laptop or an iPad in the car while the car is driving forward. I am not driving; I am sitting there working. In the old days, you could not do that. It is amazing how it has improved our efficiency. It is sort of, in a certain sense, Adam Smith's dream because it reduces transaction costs and allows us to focus effectively on producing what people want and need.

In short, our cyber world is one we could have never imagined 30 years ago. It is both simple--it can be accessed through a few keystrokes or screen touches--and yet it is enormously complex in its infrastructure. We have to do everything we can to protect that free and open access--that is the theme of my speech today--although we also, of course, have to protect the critical infrastructure behind it.

We are all aware of the national security risks if we do not do a cyber bill. Many of us have sat up in the Visitor Center, in the secure room, and heard leaders of our military and intelligence agencies tell us that the greatest threat to America is a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure--in many of their estimation, even more dangerous than terrorism.

Hackers broke into the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, stealing the aircraft's design and electronic-related schematics. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where hackers break into a gas refinery or a nuclear powerplant to wreak havoc with the control computer systems, nor is it hard to see a scenario where Iran attempts to learn some of our nuclear secrets. So it is very important to deal with the critical infrastructure piece.

Mr. President, let me commend you for your hard work in this area, along with the Senator from Arizona. We are still hoping and praying you guys can come to an agreement, along with the help of many. I know Senator Mikulski has been very active and many other of my colleagues, but the Presiding Officer's leadership has been exemplary as well, and I would apply the same words to you that I applied to the Senator from Delaware before in terms of working on complex, difficult projects and moving forward with them.

Anyway, it is so very important that we protect our infrastructure, but at the same time--and this is what makes the legislation even more difficult--we have to be aware of the risk to a critical part of our economy if we do not do it right, if we do not do it carefully, if we do not do it thoughtfully, and if we do not balance the need to protect infrastructure with legitimate rights of the freedom of the Internet and of privacy.

To be perfectly frank, I have a big dog in this fight. You see, the Silicon Valley may have given us the semiconductor, but New York City, in my opinion, will be the birthplace of the next great generation of Internet giants. New York entrepreneurs started Foursquare, Tumblr, and Kickstarter. CodeAcademy, TechStars, and General Assembly are training the next generation of Internet entrepreneurs. Venture capital is flocking to New York to help these startups. For the first time, we are getting engineers and scientists who want to be in New York. We are still not at the level of the Silicon Valley, but we are probably No. 2 in the country in this regard, and, like all New Yorkers, we want to be No. 1 at some point. [Page: S5718] What is more, the existing Internet giants--Facebook and Google and Twitter--have all opened major offices in New York City. Google has over 3,000 people. I was proud to be at the opening of Facebook, and they are so happy with their office, they are expanding its role already. These companies know the talent and energy that are unique to New York, and they do not want to miss out on the next great idea. That, as I said, is likely to come from New York.

These ideas are not just important for New York but for America. Internet and tech companies around the country have ushered in a new era of change. They have made our world a drastically and dramatically different place than it was even 10 years ago--a better world, a more open world, a more productive world.

But one thing remains the same: We do not have a coherent and comprehensive national strategy to protect the critical networks that power our everyday lives--our homes, our businesses, and our computers. It is akin to protecting the Taj Mahal with a chain link fence and a bike lock. These networks protect our water systems and our financial information, the electric grid and our e-mail accounts.

This bill goes a long way in establishing a set of principles and programs that will make these vulnerable networks safer, but there are some parts of the bill I fear go a step too far in the name of security over privacy, and there has to be a balance. The same minds who have given us the great Internet innovations of the 21st century have told me, convinced me, educated me that we cannot cede too much power to one side of this equation.

We all know that in this very complex cyber world, we do give up some of our privacy, but unabated authority to stifle innovation in the name of cyber security is a bridge too far. That is why I am happy to cosponsor the amendment of my colleague from Minnesota Al Franken. He has become an expert on trying to figure out how we can preserve the dynamism, the effectiveness, the efficiency of the Internet but at the same time preserve our privacy.

As more and more of our economic lifeblood has shifted into the cyber world, we have an obligation to ensure that the infrastructure that validates credit card purchases, directs planes, and controls electricity is well protected against cyber attack. It is not a secret that people want to disrupt our way of life, and it is easy to imagine a world where terrorists attempt to take control of railroad switches and traffic lights to cause incredible disruption to our everyday lives. However, we must make sure that in protecting what we have, we do not stifle innovation, we do not trample on people's privacy rights. We have to leave room for the creation from the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or whomever, while protecting the security the average middle-class family, the Baileys, feel when they go online to buy birthday presents for their grandchildren.

So in the final bill, we must find the right balance to preserve the economic viability of the Internet; otherwise, there will be no critical infrastructure to protect. But we must protect privacy rights, and I think the Franken amendment--and I commend it to my colleagues; a lot of work has gone into it--puts the balance in the right place.

I hope that as we move forward on this bill--either now or in September when we return--we will get broad bipartisan support for that amendment because it enables us to, in a certain sense, have our cake and eat it too: protect our infrastructure but at the same time protect, nurture our creativity and the openness of the Internet and protect our privacy.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.