Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., introduced new legislation Monday that would grant the president the authority to implement trade sanctions against foreign enemies that engage in cyberattacks against the U.S.
The Providing Retaliation Options Against Those Engaging in Cyberattacks Targeting the United States Act, or the PROTECT US Act, "delegates limited trade sanction authority to the president," according to Brooks' press release.
Ultimately, the president or Congress can add countries promoting these attacks to a "State Sponsors of Cyberattacks" list which would then allow the president to instill "various trade sanction options" in retaliation.
Brooks said he created this bill in response to the two cyberattacks resulting in the theft of sensitive information of more than 22 million Americans. This information included Social Security numbers and was taken from background check databases and personnel files at the Office of Personnel Management. China is thought to be behind the attack, but the Obama administration has declined to blame any person, entity or country yet.
"Foreign entities regularly engage in cyberattacks against the United States, our citizens, our infrastructure, and our businesses and job creators," Brooks said. "Protecting the United States from cyberattacks is essential to our national security interests, and the best means to deter countries that actively support or fail to stop or prosecute such attacks is with a swift and punitive response."
Brooks said that without punishment, the attacks will continue to occur more frequently and with greater severity. The bill would simply allow the president "to respond quickly and with great discretion," according to the press release.
"Congress retains complete authority on trade sanctions, and this legislation would not limit Congress' ability to impose or remove any sanctions at any time," Brooks said. "Rather, it takes an important step in increasing our ability to take swift action to deter foreign aggressors."