The Congresswoman’s Bipartisan Bill Would Improve How the Federal Government Tracks, Measures, Analyzes, & Prosecutes Cybercrime
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House Judiciary Committee today voted to pass U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan, bicameral bill to improve the federal government’s understanding, measurement, and tracking of cybercrime. After clearing this milestone, her legislation now advances to the U.S. House floor for further consideration.
Recent reporting indicates that 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. However, the federal government currently lacks an effective system to measure cybercrime. 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.
Spanberger’s Better Cybercrime Metrics Act would improve how the federal government tracks, measures, analyzes, and prosecutes cybercrime. By starting the process of building an effective system to delineate and track cybercrime incidents, her legislation would allow U.S. law enforcement agencies to better identify cyberthreats, prevent attacks, and take on the challenge of cybercrime. Spanberger introduced the bipartisan legislation in August 2021.
“Over the last few years, we have seen cyberattacks against American consumers, homes, and business skyrocket. Unfortunately, we have seen a federal government that lacks the preparedness required to fully combat the threats posed by the next generation of cybercrime. That’s why I am so proud to see my bipartisan bill advance out of the House Judiciary Committee today,” said Spanberger. “The Better Cybercrime Metrics Act would provide our law enforcement with the tools they need to fight cybercrime and keep our communities safe online. By establishing a classification system that can properly identify these crimes and prevent attacks, we can hold perpetrators accountable and be better prepared for the next generation of challenges.”
Several 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).
Specifically, Spanberger’s Better Cybercrime Metrics Act would 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’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).
Companion legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Additional U.S. Senate cosponsors on the legislation are U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
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.