U.S. Chamber letter in support of S. 2931, the "Botnet Prevention Act of 2016"

Friday, May 20, 2016 - 9:30am

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse
 Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism 
Committee on the Judiciary 
United States Senate 
Washington, D.C. 20510 

Dear Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Whitehouse:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state
and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and
defending America’s free enterprise system, writes to express its support for your legislation,
S. 2931, the “Botnet Prevention Act of 2016.” The Chamber supported adding a version of this
legislation to cybersecurity information sharing legislation last year.

Businesses’ threat detection, information sharing, and incident response capabilities are
improving. However, the Chamber urges policymakers to increase the costs on attackers. Law
enforcement can point to notable successes in indicting members of overseas criminal networks
and partnering with the private sector to disrupt botnets and other malicious activity. But
organizations perpetrating such acts are not fearful of attribution, extradition, and prosecution to
the degree that it seriously impacts their cost/benefit calculations.

S. 2931 would enhance the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) ability to fight networks of
compromised computers known as botnets. Under current law, DOJ’s authority to obtain
injunctive relief to shut down botnets is limited to botnets engaged in fraud or illegal
wiretapping. The legislation would expand DOJ’s authority and allow for injunctions against
botnets engaged in a broader range of illegal activity, including destruction of data, denial of
service attacks, and other criminal acts that cause damage to computers.

The legislation would also give judges the discretion to impose tougher penalties on those
who knowingly cause damage to computers that control critical infrastructure systems, without
imposing mandatory minimums.

Further, S. 2931 would amend the law to prohibit selling the “means of access” to a
compromised computer if the seller knows or has reason to know the buyer intends to cause
damage to the computer, use the means of access to commit wire fraud, or violate the criminal

spam statute. This provision would target those who sell access to the compromised computers
within a botnet.

Under current law, it is difficult to prosecute sellers of access to compromised computers,
particularly when the seller is not the person who compromised the computer in the first place.
No current criminal law directly prohibits such conduct. S. 2931 would close this loophole.

Big picture: Cybercrimes are seemingly becoming more routine, more sophisticated, and
more alarming. Law enforcement is working diligently to bring domestic and foreign attackers
to justice, which the Chamber applauds. The Chamber’s national cybersecurity campaign urges
businesses to adopt sound Internet security practices to reduce network and system weaknesses
and make the price of successful hacking increasingly steep. FBI and Secret Service agents
participate at each of the Chamber’s national cybersecurity events, and the Chamber urges
businesses to report cyber incidents and online crime to government authorities.

Private sector organizations are using the joint industry-National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,
creating new resources to help their constituencies reduce risks to their cybersecurity, and
sharing best practices through formal and informal means. Industry is also working with
government entities to strengthen their information networks and systems against malicious

The Chamber supports increasing the resources that law enforcement agencies need to
counter and mitigate cyber threats, including investigating and prosecuting cybercrime cases
internationally. S. 2931 would help tip the scales of justice toward American law enforcement
and industry.


R. Bruce Josten

cc: Members of the Committee on the Judiciary