Cybersecurity Becomes High Priority

Each Congress is divided into two sessions to fulfill the mandate under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution that states the “Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year.” Accordingly, January kicks off the second session of the 117th Congress. After the drama and dysfunction of the legislative branch over the past several years, many inside the beltway would welcome a “once in every year” assembly to limit the discord in Washington. However, given the lengthy list of items on the agenda and the added pressure of the elections, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and its members should be prepared for another busy legislative year.

Each year, FPA reviews and revises its advocacy agenda. Many priorities are the same every year—plastics, tariffs, and recycling. In 2022, cybersecurity has been added to that upper echelon of importance.

There has been a precipitous increase in high-profile cyberattacks, such as SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline. And the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to rapidly move to mobile computing platforms. Such issues have resulted in an extremely active cyber agenda, both in Congress and the Administration. The significant threat to FPA members that cyber vulnerabilities pose is unprecedented and necessitates an increased focus from an advocacy standpoint.

Cybersecurity covers a complex set of concerns, each with multiple Congressional committees and subcommittees that claim jurisdiction over some aspect of related policy. For the upcoming cycle, we expect continued oversight and additional legislation in these areas:

  • Ransomware/incident reporting: Ransomware incidents involving manufacturing continue to grow. Last year, both Congress and the Administration took steps to mandate disclosure requirements by private sector entities, and it is expected that this will remain a top priority. Issues continue to be the feasibility of reporting timelines and harmonization of requirements.
  • Smart manufacturing: The rapid digitization of manufacturing processes brings a new level of cyber complexity to factories. With innovation and growth comes new risk. Reliance on technology often incorporates systems that were never intended to be connected with the outside world. Congress is expected to address the security challenges that come along with techno-logical advancements.
  • Supply chain security: The Biden Administration made this a priority, with many federal agencies tasked with helping companies identify and manage cyber risks throughout the complex supply chains.
  • Data protection/privacy: Congress is expected to advance a comprehensive federal privacy bill that will include significant data security components. This could be the year that Congress finally completes a bill.
  • Trade: The Administration increased its efforts on trade in the fall and is expected to continue to ramp up these activities. With the expansion of digital trade, cybersecurity is now an intertwined component of all trade negotiations.

The challenge this year will be sorting through the legislation and determining which parts will move. Meanwhile, Executive Orders and regulatory actions will add further complexity to determining how cyber policies impact FPA members. As specific concerns or questions arise in your organizations, please reach out to FPA’s advocacy team.