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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Biden signs $1.5 trillion omnibus package

Federal Issues Federal Legislation Biden Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach LIBOR HUD

Federal Issues

On March 15, President Biden signed H.R. 2471 the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022” (Act) into law. According to House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro’s press release, the Act is an omnibus spending measure that provides $1.5 trillion in discretionary resources across the 12 fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills. Among other things, the Act includes the “Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022,” which establishes requirements for reporting ransomware incidents on critical infrastructure to the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Specifically, Division Y Section 2242, establishes that companies must report incidents to CISA 72 hours after the covered entity reasonably believes that a cyber incident has occurred, or within 24 hours if a ransomware payment has occurred. If a company fails to meet the reporting requirements, the Act permits the cyber security director to “obtain information about the cyber incident or ransom payment by engaging the covered entity directly to request information about the cyber incident or ransom payment, and if the Director is unable to obtain information through such engagement, by issuing a subpoena to the covered entity, pursuant to subsection (c), to gather information sufficient to determine whether a covered cyber incident or ransom payment has occurred.” The Act also establishes that if CISA determines that the incident requires regulatory enforcement action or criminal prosecution, such information may be provided to the Attorney General or the appropriate regulator, who may utilize such information for a regulatory enforcement action or criminal prosecution. Within 24 months, CISA is directed to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register to implement the Act, followed by the issuance of a final rule within 18 months of the NPRM. The final rule will outline the criteria of reporting and provide the effective dates for the reporting requirements. The Act also directs CISA to carry out an outreach and education campaign to inform covered entities about the rule’s requirements. Though the bill establishes that a court shall dismiss a cause of action against a person or entity for submitting a report, the liability protections “shall only apply to or affect litigation that is solely based on the submission of a covered cyber incident report or ransom payment report to the [Sector Risk Management] Agency.”

The Act also includes the “Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act,” which establishes “a clear and uniform process, on a nationwide basis, for replacing LIBOR in existing contracts the terms of which do not provide for the use of a clearly defined or practicable replacement benchmark rate, without affecting the ability of parties to use any appropriate benchmark rate in new contracts,” among other things. Additionally, the Act includes rental assistance programs and climate restoration grants, which, according to a statement by HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, “provides funding to improve the energy efficiency of housing and increase resilience to climate impacts.”