Blackburn sponsors bipartisan, bicameral Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on April 19 sponsored a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would establish a K-12 Cybersecurity Technology Improvement Program within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will improve the cybersecurity tracking system for schools and provide them with necessary training resources and best practices for prevention,” Sen. Blackburn said.

The Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act, S. 1191, is cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), while the companion bill, H.R. 2845, was introduced on April 25 by U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Zach Nunn (R-IA).

If enacted, the measure would direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director to establish a Cybersecurity Information Exchange to disseminate information, best practices, and grant opportunities to improve cybersecurity, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Cyberattacks continue to grow in size, frequency, and complexity in critical U.S. institutions, including in America’s schools,” said Sen. Blackburn. “We must ensure that our education sector is equipped to address these threats and keep students’ personal information private.”

Additionally, the bill would establish a Cybersecurity Incident Registry within CISA to track incidents of cyberattacks on elementary and secondary schools; and direct CISA to establish the K-12 Cybersecurity Technology Improvement Program, which would be administered through an information and analysis organization to deploy cybersecurity capabilities addressing cybersecurity risks and threats to information systems of K-12 schools, the summary says.

Among other provisions, the bill also would authorize $10 million per year for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 to fund the Cybersecurity Technology Improvement Program.

“As cyberattacks continue to expose private information and disrupt infrastructure across industries, including in education, with increased frequency, we must ensure that schools are in the best position possible to prevent and respond to attacks,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will put in place necessary procedures to protect our students’ data and keep sensitive information private.”

The bill has been endorsed by the Consortium for School Networking, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association.