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US Senate bill seeks mandatory sanctions against Russia for hacking

[JURIST] A bipartisan group of 10 US Senators on Tuesday introduced legislation [text, PDF] aimed at implementing mandatory sanctions [press release] against Russia for its involvement in cyber hacking during the 2016 presidential election. The US government has alleged that Russia intentionally tried to interfere with the US election in favor of one of the candidates by releasing a string of e-mails obtained through hacking and that orders to do so could have come from the highest level of the Russian government. The group introducing the bill is composed equally of Republican and Democratic Senators led by John McCain (R-AZ) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) [official profiles]. The bill calls for mandatory asset freezes and visa bans for anyone who undermines cybersecurity or democratic institutions and imposes mandatory sanctions on transaction with Russia's defense. Other sections of the bill would also impose sanctions on Russia for its actions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, and would attempt to curb Russian influence in Europe.

The bill was introduced just days after a report [text, PDF] by the US intelligence community determined that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election." In December the White House [official website] announced that sanctions would be enacted [JURIST report] against Russia as a response to Russia's involvement in the hacking during the recent election and for the treatment of US diplomats in Russia. The next week California Congressman Adam Schiff stated that there will be a bi-partisan push for stronger sanctions [JURIST report] against Russia if incoming president Donald Trump attempts to undo those already in place. The issue of cybersecurity has been addressed several times by the White House under the Obama administration. In 2015 the White House imposed sanctions [JURIST report] and higher penalties on foreign security threats. The Obama administration has also urged Congress to pass stricter cyber security laws, and in 2013 an official from the Obama administration testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge Congress to amend [JURIST report] the Freedom of Information Act in order to strengthen the government's ability to prevent disclosure of information related to critical infrastructure and cyber security.

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