After the Stop Online Piracy Act, Congress is set to tackle a new cyber bill this month, one that could make U.S. foreign assistance conditional to a country’s actions on cybercrimes, says Josh Rogin of The Cable.

On Thursday (Feb. 16), a group of senators introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. This is a piece of legislation that would allow for public-private sector cooperation in combating security threats online and enforce cybersecurity measures for companies with computer systems running at “critical infrastructure.”

The bill may seem harmless — at least for the aid community — but Rogin said one section links U.S. aid directly to cybercrimes in foreign countries.

One of the provisions set in the bill states that the Secretary of State is “authorized” to prioritize aid to programs designed to combat cybercrime in a region.

Senate staffers who worked on the bill said that apart from building foreign countries’ capacity to fight cybercrime, the bill empowers the State Department to use foreign aid as leverage to stop cyberespionage.

While the bill does not mandate the State to tie foreign assistance to countries’ actions online, one of the aides said the bill will give the State a tool to pressure countries into doing the “right thing.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.