Proposed Bill Would Allow Americans to Sue Foreign Cyber-Actors


A bill introduced in the House of Representatives this week could allow United States citizens to seek monetary damages if cyber-attacks by foreign threat actors harm them in any way.

Referred to as the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act, or the HACT Act, the legislation is the reintroduced version of a bill initially introduced in August 2019.

The bill was reintroduced by Reps. Jack Bergman (MI-01), Colin Allred (TX-32), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Joe Neguse (CO-02), and Andy Kim (NJ-03).

Per the bill, Americans would be able to make claims in federal or state courts if they are in any way affected by cyber-attacks that foreign states have conducted against them.

The HACT Act seeks to eliminate the immunity of foreign states, officials, and government employees, in courts in the United States, when Americans seek money damages against a foreign state “for personal injury, harm to reputation, or damage to or loss of property,” the bill reads.

Activities the legislation refers to include unauthorized access to a computer in the United States or to confidential, electronic information stored in the country, as well as the use of malware or other harmful applications to infect computers in the United States.

The bill also seeks to cover the unauthorized use or leak of information stolen from those activities and the provisioning of material support for threat actors who engage in those types of activities, including by officials of foreign states.

“Cyberattacks against American citizens are only increasing and Congress should give Americans the tools they need to fight back against foreign attacks. This legislation does just that by giving Americans the ability to hold foreign governments accountable for damage done by cyberattacks,” Rep. Allred commented.

Related: Bill Aimed at Ending ‘Warrant-Proof’ Encryption Introduced in House

Related: D.C. Council Passes Data Security Legislation

Related: New Legislation Would Require a Cybersecurity Coordinator in Every State

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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