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Tech Industry

Congress sets up cybersecurity panel

In a sign of the government's heightened interest in securing the Internet, the U.S. Congress votes to create a committee devoted to cybersecurity.

WASHINGTON--In a sign of the federal government's heightened interest in securing the Internet, the U.S. Congress on Tuesday established its first panel devoted to cybersecurity.

In its kickoff meeting, the new House Homeland Security Committee voted to create five subcommittees that will focus on border security, emergency preparedness, counterterrorism, and internal committee rules. The fifth will oversee the federal government's "cybersecurity, science, and research and development" efforts relating to homeland security.

Chairman Chris Cox, R-Calif., said the committee's organization "will ensure that protecting Americans is the No. 1 priority of the federal government. Each member should be proud to take his or her experience and expertise and apply them to this vital mission."

A description distributed by Cox's office said the cybersecurity subcommittee will be in charge of the "protection of government and private networks and computer systems from domestic and foreign attack (and) prevention of injury to civilian populations and physical infrastructure caused by cyberattack."

The Senate does not have a parallel effort, though its subcommittee on technology, terrorism and government information shares similar duties.

Tuesday's vote comes after Congress approved a Cyber Security Research and Development Act in November 2002 that would give universities about $900 million during the next five years to create security centers, recruit graduate students, and pay for research.

The new Department of Homeland Security, which officially came into being on Mar. 1, consolidated the federal government's computer security efforts. On Monday, its Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection worked with technology companies to coordinate responses to a vulnerability in the Sendmail mail server software.