White House Responds to Langevin and McCaul on Wassenaar Concerns

Feb 2, 2016 Issues: Cybersecurity

Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus Co-Chairs Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) have received a response to a December letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice urging her involvement in further revisions to U.S. implementation of export controls on cybersecurity software. Langevin and McCaul sent the letter to Ambassador Rice along with 123 bipartisan Members of Congress.

In her response on behalf of the Administration, Caroline Tess, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council, recognized the concerns and advised that a final rule will not be issued without at least one more round of public comment. Since December, Tess indicated the Administration has “intensified engagement” with relevant stakeholders to ensure that any controls placed on the proliferation of intrusion software are done so “in a manner consistent with promoting cybersecurity.”

“I thank Ambassador Rice for re-engaging the National Security Council on this important issue,” said Langevin. “It is clear that the original proposed rule would have ‘come at the expense of legitimate cybersecurity activities;’ closer NSC involvement will help a revised rule steer clear of these pitfalls. However, as we learned at the Homeland Security Committee hearing last month, the underlying problem may lie in the Arrangement language itself, meaning the only solution may be to go back to Wassenaar and renegotiate. I am confident that the NSC, with additional insight from industry leaders and cybersecurity experts, will be able to guide the interagency to an outcome that protects our national security, and I look forward to continuing my work with Chairman McCaul to monitor this process.”

“I also thank Ambassador Rice and the National Security Council for their re-engagement on this serious national security issue,” said McCaul. “As evidenced by the testimony during the Committee on Homeland Security and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform joint subcommittee hearing last month, this proposed rule – and relevant section of the underlying agreement itself – would have significant unintended consequences for security researchers, cybersecurity providers, and our overall cyber posture. With this response, I am also hopeful that the NSC, in coordination with industry leaders and academics, will be able to guide the process here forward so as to ensure the United States can continue to protect American information and information systems that ultimately keep our country safe. I also look forward to continue working with Congressman Langevin as we oversee this critical process.”