Congress has been rocked by revelations of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, and Congress is in the midst of a series of hearings on the topic.
This year, members of the House and Senate are expected to take up bills that could make it easier for the government to collect and store information about Americans.
But as the NSA scandal has highlighted, lawmakers have yet to take any real steps to address cybersecurity threats to the country, a point that’s brought renewed attention to the cybersecurity issues facing the House.
That’s the focus of a new book, “The Congress: A Congress for a Changing World,” by Robby Robbins, a former member of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Robbins is writing this book as part of his campaign to educate people about how Congress works, and the ways that lawmakers have been distracted from addressing the cybersecurity threat that they’re facing.
In a recent interview with Ars, Robbins told us about the challenges Congress faces when it comes to cybersecurity, and what his book hopes to accomplish.
“It’s a lot easier to make the case than to actually get the bill passed, because you don’t have the time to talk to every member of Congress,” Robbins said.
“We do have a lot of time to listen to them, but it’s a much harder conversation to have when you have to talk about this stuff.”
He went on to explain that Congress has become more focused on cybersecurity issues over the past few years, and that the result has been that lawmakers aren’t really focused on the underlying issues of cybersecurity that affect everyone.
“There is not a lot that’s really going on in Congress, because there are not many people who have to deal with the issues that affect the country,” Robbins told Ars.
“The problem is not that they have no problems, it’s that they’ve chosen not to deal directly with those issues.”
In a way, Congress has always been focused on national security issues, but that’s changing.
Robbins said the issue of cybersecurity has become a bit of a “crowning” event in Washington.
“If you think about the last few years in Congress you’re seeing a real shift,” he said.
The problem is that there is not much that’s actually going on In Congress, there is a lot more attention on national defense, and we’ve seen a real change in the way that we’re dealing with cybersecurity, Robbins said, especially as cybersecurity is a key element in the legislative agenda.
Congress hasn’t had a very active cybersecurity committee in the past.
“It’s been a relatively quiet committee for years,” Robbins explained.
“A lot of things are going on on the front burner, and there’s not a great deal of energy focused on it.”
In 2017, the House held its first cybersecurity hearing of the session.
But the committee wasn’t interested in hearing about cybersecurity at all.
“One of the things that’s very important is that they understand that cybersecurity is not just an issue that concerns them,” Robbins recalled.
“This is something that affects the entire country, and they are not going to focus on national issues, and so they don’t get a fair chance to hear from the experts in cybersecurity.”
Robbins said that during his time in the House, he often heard that Congress was “just focused on cyber,” but that he knew he was “not the only person who was in the hearing who was just focused on these national security concerns.”
Congress is “not in the business of talking about cybersecurity, but they do want to know if it is a real threat,” Robbins added.
“They want to make sure that there’s a response to the threat that the country is facing.”
But this has created a disconnect between lawmakers and the American people, Robbins explained, because people are “just looking for the quick fix” when it’s time for lawmakers to actually do something about cybersecurity.
“When the threat of a cyber attack is on the table, the people who are supposed to be there to answer that threat are not in the room.
That makes a difference,” Robbins continued.
“People who are sitting at home are not hearing about what’s happening in the world.”
It’s not just that lawmakers are missing out on the discussion on cybersecurity.
Robbins says that there has been a lot less focus on cybersecurity in the last several years.
“I think there has never been a more urgent situation in the country to address it,” Robbins noted.
“In terms of the national security, I think that we have seen more and more focus on the economy.
But cybersecurity is the only issue that really matters.
There is not enough discussion of cybersecurity in Congress.”
There are still a lot people in Congress who are “not even listening” to cybersecurity issues, Robbins argued, and it’s easy to see why.
Congress is busy fighting the president over trade deals, and even though they have a legitimate debate to have about whether or not trade