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New Senate bill sanctions Iranians who threaten U.S. cybersecurity

The bill's author has long been highly critical of Obama's relationship with Iran.

Feb 29, 2020, 8:56 am*



Patrick Howell O'Neill

A newly introduced Senate bill would impose sanctions on Iranians who are “undermining cybersecurity” for the United States.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced the Iran Cyber Sanctions Act earlier this week. It’s currently under review by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. The full text of the bill has not yet been added to the Library of Congress.

“Some of the most serious threats facing the United States today are cyberattacks,” Rounds said in a statement. “Iran and our other enemies currently use sophisticated technology to carry out cyberattacks against U.S. businesses and our government. By reporting and sanctioning perpetrators, we can stop additional cyber-attacks before they happen and identify where future threats may come from.” 

Rounds has long been highly critical of President Barack Obama‘s relationship with Iran. He was part of the group of Republicans who sent a letter to Iran in 2015 telling Iranian leadership that any deals between the Obama administration and Iran would fall through if a Republican is elected in 2016.

Rounds’s bill requires the president to report to Congress all Iranians “who have knowingly engaged in efforts to undermine U.S. cybersecurity” and add Iranian cyber threats to a list that will have any assets in a U.S. jurisdiction blocked from being accessed. It also makes it illegal for Americans to do business with that person.

Finally, the bill would require a report to Congress on the “strategy to counter efforts by Iranian individuals to conduct significant activities undermining cybersecurity.”

The South Dakota senator points to the 2016 U.S. prosecutions against one Iranian for a 2013 cyberattack against a New York dam and another six individuals for a 2011  distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) campaign against 46 “major financial institutions.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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*First Published: Apr 8, 2016, 4:11 pm