Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., announced the formal launch of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) on May 8. The two lawmakers will lead the 14-person Commission.

“Through the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, we’ll work to build a foundation that will not only defend our nation against ongoing cyber-attacks but also prevent attacks by adversaries who are considering launching assaults on our essential digital infrastructure,” King said in a statement.

The CSC, which was established as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, will bring together a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Federal agency leaders, think tanks, and the private sector to “review the threats facing America in cyberspace and provide strategic guidance and policy recommendations on how to defend ourselves against cyber threats.” The end goal is to “build a consensus on a strategic approach to defending the United States in cyberspace against cyberattacks of significant consequences as the world enters a new phase of cyberconflict.”

“Cyberspace is a decisive battlefield in the 21st century,” said Rep. Gallagher. “Every day, Americans are on the frontline of a new kind of conflict—wittingly or not—and we lack a plan to combat these challenges. It is imperative we take immediate action. Taking a page from President Eisenhower, the Commission’s goal is to bring together the country’s best and brightest to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to counter these growing threats.”

On the initial docket for the CSC is developing a “comprehensive cyber policy,” which includes specific policy recommendations that relevant agencies can implement. The Commission’s work will eventually develop a public report and appear before congressional committees that oversee defense, intelligence, and homeland security to discuss their findings and recommendations.

“At this moment, we do not have a clear strategy to prevent bad actors from attacking our vital infrastructure, and with each passing moment of inaction, the risks grow graver,” King said. “I deeply believe that the next crippling attack on our country will be a cyber-attack; from attacks on critical infrastructure such as our electrical grid, financial sector, or telecommunications network to further interference in our free and open elections, there are a number of vulnerable targets that our enemies could exploit in order to inflict serious harm on the American people.”

In addition to King and Gallagher, the commissioners are:

  • Ben Sasse, R-Neb.,
  • Jim Langevin, D-R.I.,
  • Susan Gordon, deputy director of National Intelligence,
  • David Norquist, acting deputy secretary of Defense,
  • David Pekoske, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security,
  • Chris Wray, Director of the FBI,
  • Frank Cilluffo, director of the McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security at Auburn University,
  • Tom Fanning, chairman, president, and CEO of the Southern Company,
  • Chris Inglis, professor of Cyber Security Studies at U.S. Naval Academy and former deputy director of the National Security Agency,
  • Patrick Murphy, former congressman and former under secretary of the Army,
  • Samantha Ravich, vice chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and former principal deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, and
  • Suzanne Spaulding, senior advisor for Homeland Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former under secretary of National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.