Her “Better Cybercrime Metrics Act” Will Improve How the Federal Government Tracks, Measures, Analyzes, & Prosecutes Cybercrime
The Congresswoman’s Legislation is Endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police & Several Additional National Law Enforcement Organizations
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden today signed into law U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan, bicameral bill to improve the federal government’s understanding, measurement, and tracking of cybercrime.
Cyber and cyber-enabled crimes continue to rise at an alarming rate — including due to the emergence of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating billions of dollars of financial losses in addition to serious safety and personal consequences for the American people. However, the federal government currently lacks an effective system to measure cybercrime.
Spanberger’s Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will improve how the federal government tracks, measures, analyzes, and prosecutes cybercrime. By starting the process of building an effective system to track cybercrime incidents, her legislation will allow U.S. law enforcement agencies to better identify cyberthreats, prevent attacks, and take on the challenge of cybercrime.
“One year ago this week, we saw the damaging effects of the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline. In an instant, the American people saw how cybercrime —now the most common crime in America — could jeopardize the integrity of critical infrastructure, the American economy, and our national security. And as cybercriminals increasingly adapt their methods of attack against vulnerable people and networks, the United States must improve our cybercrime classification system. Otherwise, we are risking the safety and privacy of American families, homes, businesses, and government agencies,” said Spanberger, a former CIA case officer and former federal agent.
Spanberger continued, “Today, I am proud to have the President sign my bipartisan Better Cybercrime Metrics Act into law. By strengthening our data collection, anticipating future trends, and giving law enforcement the tools they need, we are taking commonsense steps to keep the American people safe online. I want to thank my colleagues in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate — from both parties — for their partnership on this critical and timely legislation.”
Several national law enforcement organizations have endorsed Spanberger’s Better Cybercrime Metrics Act — including the National Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and Cybercrime Support Network (CSN).
“Robust data on cybercrime is necessary to supporting and enhancing the capacity of state and local law enforcement to prevent, investigate and respond to such crimes. Until the enactment of the Better Cybercrime Metrics Act, there have been no standardized metrics for tracking cybercrime, which has hindered law enforcement’s ability to fully understand its impact across the country. With these standardized metrics in place, it will be easier for state and local law enforcement to collect and report data on cybercrime incidents, leading to better investigations and prosecution of these crimes. NAPO thanks Congresswoman Spanberger and Senator Schatz for their leadership and advocacy to see this important bill signed into law,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).
“We deeply appreciate the work and foresight of Rep. Spanberger and her partners in Congress to champion the Better Cybercrime Metrics Act. The cybercrime investigators and prosecutors that NW3C serves can now fully and consistently understand the complexities and scope of the challenges they face to better focus their resources.” said Glen Gainer, President, National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). “Rep. Spanberger is a true advocate for justice and supporter of criminal investigators.”
“As society becomes more technologically enabled, local law enforcement has seen an increase in cyber-enabled crime. The Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will improve the available data on cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime which in turn will help local law enforcement identify trends and develop solutions to mitigate these threats. The MCCA thanks the bill’s sponsors for their leadership and President Biden for signing this important piece of legislation,” said Jeri Williams, Chief, Phoenix Police Department & President, Major Cities Chief Association (MCCA).
Specifically, Spanberger’s Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will improve federal cybercrime metrics by:
- Requiring the Government Accountability Office to report on the effectiveness of current cybercrime mechanisms and highlight disparities in reporting data between cybercrime data and other types of crime data,
- Requiring that the National Crime Victimization Survey incorporate questions related to cybercrime in its survey instrument,
- Requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to develop a taxonomy for cybercrime that can be used by law enforcement, and
- Ensuring that the National Incident Based Reporting System — or any successor system — include cybercrime reports from federal, state, and local officials.
Spanberger introduced the bipartisan legislation in August 2021 — and the U.S. Senate passed the companion bill in December 2021.
In March 2022, an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass Spanberger’s legislation. Ahead of the House passage of the legislation, Spanberger spoke on the floor of the U.S. House to discuss how this legislation will protect American consumers, prepare the United States for future cyberthreats, and help hold perpetrators accountable. Click here to watch her remarks.
Spanberger’s legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT-01), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Ed Case (D-HI-01), David Trone (D-MD-06), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD-07), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) — as well as Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL).
The U.S. Senate version of the Better Cybercrime Metrics Act is led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Additional U.S. Senate cosponsors on the legislation include U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
In 2018, a nonpartisan study from Gallup found that nearly one in four U.S. households were a victim of cybercrime — making it the most common crime in America. However, the large majority of these crimes are not properly reported or tracked — and in many cases, these incidents are not measured at all. By some estimates, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) only collects about one in 90 of all cybercrime incidents in its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) database
The Uniform Crime Reporting Act of 1988 requires all federal law enforcement agencies to report crime data through the FBI. However, federal agencies like the FBI and Secret Service — which often have jurisdiction over crimes within the broader definition of cybercrime — are not consistently reporting these numbers into the federal systems. State and local law enforcement reporting on cybercrime is also limited and inconsistently reported to federal agencies.
This lack of detailed, consistent systems for collecting and categorizing data on cybercrime is an impediment to understanding the scope of the problem — thus impairing law enforcement’s ability to protect against cybercrime.