Sen. John McCain will investigate the Sony hack

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday that he will investigate the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, promising to hold a hearing on the cyberattack that the FBI says is the work of the North Korean government.

During an interview on KFYI 550, an Arizona radio station, McCain, who takes over the Senate Armed Services Committee in January, called the hack “The greatest blow to free speech that I’ve seen in my lifetime, probably.”

 “We have to respond in kind,” McCain said on station’s “The Mike Broomhead Show.” “We have lots of capability in cyber and we ought to start cranking that up.”

A few hours after McCain’s comments, the FBI officially accused North Korea of directing the attack.

Sony announced on Wednesday that it was canceling the Christmas release of a film, a Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy called The Interview, which had provoked terrorist threats from the hackers. McCain agreed with the general public and the rest of Hollywood that this was a bad decision.

“Suck it up,” McCain said. “Show the movie.”

It’s unknown what format McCain’s hearings might take, or whether the Republican-led 114th Congress will be able to pass meaningful legislation responding to the attack. Democrats and Republicans generally agree that cyberattacks are a growing problem, but have failed to find much common ground in Congress.

In a statement released shortly after the FBI’s announcement, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson called the hack “an attack on our freedom of expression and way of life” and said it “underscores the importance of good cybersecurity practices.”

Johnson also encouraged businesses to adopt a set of federal cybersecurity guidelines that his department helped create. Sen. McCain may call for similar guidelines to be turned into legislation during or after his hearing.

Photo via twinkletoez/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.