Fifth Generation (5G) mobile broadband speed has arrived in the United States, bringing hopes of rapid transformations in medicine, transportation and more.
But according to NATO, faster speeds also present the potential of foreign-based cybersecurity threats. Officials say countries like China and Russia could take advantage of U.S. 5G infrastructure to turbocharge espionage and enable new cyber and military threats.
Too bad that when it comes to policy-making, Washington tends to move at dial-up speeds. On this matter, however, a freshman congresswoman who has made a name for herself for rallying members around broadband, technology security and infrastructure reforms, is breaking the stereotype.
Inside the beltway there are a lot of people who talk about technology from a security perspective and recognize it’s importance, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), said in an interview.
“But we have the power to legislate, so we should,” she said.
Spanberger is leading the charge to build a national 5G Strategy. The former CIA officer unveiled her Secure 5G and Beyond Act in 2019. The legislation aims to secure current and future-generation wireless communications systems and infrastructure across the country and assist defense partners in allies in securing their own systems.
The bill also aims protect the competitiveness of domestic companies and the privacy of U.S. consumers while supporting international efforts to deter foreign election interference.
By the end of the year, the bill had breezed through three markup sessions and several consideration meetings, passed through two House committees and a sub-committee.
If passed the full House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 413-3 in January, before moving to the Senate for consideration.
That’s remarkable progress for a bill dealing with an esoteric issue, considering only about 5% of all bills in the current Congress have received a significant vote in one chamber, let alone passed.
Spanberger said her key to success was getting a jumpstart on finding allies in the various committees that would determine its fair.
She added the strong backing from House members should allow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn to “use that as a proof point,” to whip support for a standalone vote in the Senate sooner than later.