The widespread use of internet-connected consumer “smart” devices brings not only an increasing dependence on technology for daily living, but also the need to shield users’ privacy and to protect vast amounts of data collected through their use.
The need to secure data based primarily on concerns over individual’s privacy issues has evolved to the need of keeping entire systems in every industry free from threats – an area we commonly refer to as cybersecurity. Threats to cybersecurity all share the common trait of a breach and/or attack on those systems by malicious actors. As a result of breaches in security (“cyberattacks”), threats to a system can spill directly into threats to individual privacy, leaving creators, administrators, and users exposed.
Meanwhile, the increased use of communications technology during the pandemic has further revealed how vulnerable these systems and devices can be. As the ongoing health crisis shifted many aspects of life to an internet-connected device, it has revealed the extent to which a cyberattack has the potential to dangerously interrupt, cripple, or paralyze everyday functions.
With threats so great, cybersecurity is no longer the exclusive concern of IT departments of private enterprise. It is now showing up with greater frequency in the committee rooms of state capitols.
Spurred by his own personal experience as a victim of identity theft from a cyberattack, California State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) has started a committee on Cybersecurity and Identity Theft Prevention. As a “select committee,” Senator Min’s new panel is designed to help legislators focus on specific issues and learn more about them. While the cybersecurity select committee is a first in the state’s Senate, the state Assembly has had a select committee on cybersecurity since 2015.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase of cyberattacks, including breaches involving businesses, hospitals, a police station, and a major pipeline.
The use of a select committee is utilized in the Legislature to help bring sharpened attention to an issue. With so many competing interests, establishing a select committee allows for a deeper delve into the issues, the ability to hear from experts and stakeholders, and an opportunity to conduct meaningful discussions. Though technically select committees do not hear bills and are not expected to produce tangible outcomes, Senator Min’s panel has the potential to generate enough information and education on the issue to eventually support policy proposals to create and enforce a legal or policy framework to best protect society against cyberattacks.
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government & External Affairs Specialist. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to GVillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.