In August of 2019, Rep. Jack Bergman and Rep. Andy Kim introduced H.R. 4189, the bipartisan Homeland and Cyber Threat Act (HACT Act) which would remove the immunity of foreign states—including foreign officials, employees, or agents—with regard to money damages sought by a national of the United States for personal injury, harm to reputation, or damage to or loss of property resulting from cyberattacks. The bill now has 63 cosponsors and is building momentum as the most viable means of addressing the epidemic of foreign-sponsored hacking of American citizens and institutions.
Currently, the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act (FSIA) shields these foreign state actors from American lawsuits, protecting them from any form of accountability. Recently, we have seen an increase in alerts from both the FBI and DHS warning of the ongoing threat of “hostile foreign actors” exploiting the COVID-19 crisis. This further underscores the need to pass H.R. 4189, the HACT Act, to protect American institutions and citizens from foreign-government sponsored cyber-attacks
“Without accountability, foreign state actors have no deterrent as they continue to prey on the American government, businesses, and individuals, gravely undermining our fight against the virus,” said Rep. Jack Bergman. “Fortunately, Congress has the means to address this by enacting the HACT Act now, before more damage is done to our national security. The prospect of the seizure of foreign assets held in the United States is a strong and practical disincentive to future cyberattacks sponsored by foreign governments aimed at harming our citizens and our institutions.”
Bergman continued, “This bill should be incorporated into the next Coronavirus relief bill and implemented immediately as an essential national security measure to protect the United States government, our health care system, and American citizens from the ongoing cyber-threat, crucially important at this time of national trial. In this crisis, we need effective action that could serve to deter such state-sponsored cyber crime, and we need it now, before the problem continues to get worse and our national security becomes gravely imperiled.”