Threat-sharing cybersecurity bill unveiled

A new bill has been introduced to make sharing cyberthreat data between corporations and the government less risky -- legally.

CBS News

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has introduced a bill which will make sharing cybersecurity data easier for companies by removing the prospect of being sued.

On Tuesday, leaders of the US House unveiled the legislation to improve communication between companies and the government without fear of legal reprisal, as reported by Reuters. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act, as it is known, has amassed "significant bipartisan support" according to the news agency.

The bill was introduced by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, and specifically forbids the intelligence community from targeting individuals and spying on them. Instead, the bill focuses on sharing data which can help companies and governments see how a cyberattack occurred, track patterns and take preventative measures to stop a repeat scenario. However, individuals that believe their privacy has been violated can challenge the government legally and seek damages.

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However, as with any cybersecurity or communications bill introduced to the floor, privacy activists are concerned that the bill might open the door for additional surveillance -- not that the US National Security Agency (NSA) necessarily needs help with that, as Edward Snowden's leaked confidential documents revealed to us.

The panel is due to vote on the bill on Thursday. If passed, which seems likely, the full House is expected to vote in late April this year.

A similar bill, passed 14-1 by the intelligence panel, is also moving through the Senate. This bill offers companies liability protection if they "share information through a civilian portal," and protect them from lawsuits as a result. According to the publication, data handed over will be "scrubbed" twice to remove personal, identifying data.

If both pass, the bills will have to be reconciled before being signed into law.

At a press briefing, Nunes commented:

"We're trying to do everything we can to protect civil liberties while protecting our cyber networks."

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