Senate Commerce Approves Violence, Cybersecurity Bills

Next Stop is Vote in Full Senate

The Senate Commerce Committee favorably reported out cybersecurity and violence research bills backed by commitee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), 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. "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," Rockefeller said. "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 issue."  

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 violence.

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.