House to vote on information-sharing cyber bill


House lawmakers will consider a bill Wednesday that would allow companies and federal agencies to voluntarily share and receive cyber threat information with each other.

The Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence April 10 and will be introduced on the House floor Wednesday. A vote is expected by Thursday.

An earlier version of the bill passed the House last April but lacked additional privacy controls included in the revised bill. Still, that has not satisfied the White House and civil liberties groups who say the bill’s current provisions are insufficient.

CISPA requires the director of national intelligence to enable intelligence agencies to share threat data with the private sector in real time. This includes information about vulnerabilities of federal and industry systems and networks and efforts to destroy or disrupt these systems. Companies that share information under the bill’s provisions would be granted legal protections if they are subject to a cyber attack.

The White House threatened to veto an earlier version of the bill that passed the House last April. Critics of the bill warned that it did little to protect citizens’ personal information and said it would not hold companies accountable for responding to threat information provided by the government.

Despite several amendments to the original bill, CISPA has not met White House expectations.

“We continue to believe that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement.

“Further we believe the adopted committee amendments reflect a good faith-effort to incorporate some of the administration’s important substantive concerns, but we do not believe these changes have addressed some outstanding fundamental priorities,” Hayden said. She said the administration will continue working with the bill’s co-authors, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the committee’s ranking member.

In an effort to appease privacy and civil liberties groups, several amendments were added to the bill, including one that restricts how the government can use cyber information it receives from the private sector. The bill requires that the government only use shared information for cybersecurity, investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes and protection of individuals and minors. A provision that would have allowed the information to be used for national security purposes was removed.

Several companies and trade groups, including Facebook, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry group TechAmerica, have expressed support for the bill. But groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union are not satisfied.

“The changes to the bill don’t address the major privacy problems we have been raising about CISPA for almost a year and a half,” Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement. “CISPA still permits companies to share sensitive and personal customer information with the government and allows the National Security Agency to collect the internet records of everyday Americans.”


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