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Chamber Praises NIAC Study Group Recommendations

Monday, October 10, 2005 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Chamber of Commerce endorsed a series of homeland security enhancements recommended today by a study group of the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) that would provide greater legal certainty regarding privacy concerns.

"Protecting sensitive information about our critical infrastructure is essential to homeland security," said Andrew Howell, vice president of homeland security policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The private sector is doing its part to protect our country. Now we need the Department of Homeland Security to take greater steps to ensure that the government and the private sector can, for the security of our nation, keep information protected."

Currently, there is no formal structure for critical infrastructure owners and operators to confidentially provide advice on homeland security matters to DHS. Instead, any such consultations, even on sensitive security matters, are subject to public access through the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). NIAC recommended, and the Chamber agrees, that the DHS Secretary should provide critical infrastructure groups with this important FACA exemption in order to appropriately protect sensitive information essential to protecting our homeland.

Among the other recommendations the Chamber endorsed is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide stronger 'originator controls' to the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) program so that an entity submitting information can effectively limit how the information is used. The PCII program is designed to encourage private industries to voluntarily share sensitive and proprietary business information with the federal government to help better identify risks and vulnerabilities to America's infrastructure, and to protect key assets.

The Chamber also endorsed the recommendation that government should automatically classify all private sector responses to requests for homeland security-related data as part of the PCII program, thereby streamlining protection of the information. Additionally, the Chamber agrees that DHS should establish and implement legal protections to ensure that information submitted under the PCII program not be used for existing or additional regulation or government mandates. Such regulation would run counter to the spirit of this voluntary program, yet such protections have not existed to date.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

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