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US cybersecurity bill to share data on threats

Amended bill allows country's spy agencies to share classified, sensitive threat information with private companies as well as expands privacy protection for data collected, report states.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

A bill which enables U.S. spy agencies to share intelligence regarding cyber threats with private companies has been backed by the country's House of Representatives intelligence panel.

The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved the legislation in a 17-1 vote on Thursday, which would expand a pilot Pentagon program to share classified and sensitive online threat information with defense contractors and Internet service providers (ISPs), according to Reuters.

With this implementation, more companies would be eligible to access classified data from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies.

The bill was also amended to expand privacy protections for data given to the government by companies, and may include data which ISPs give about their customers. According to the amendment, that data could only be used for national or cyber security.

For example, NSA, a sponsor of the bill, can share with ISPs information identifying specific threats so that the service provider can then block traffic to customers from that source. However, the government would be allowed to search collected data only to secure cyber networks from attacks.

"Through hard work and compromise, we have struck a delicate balance that provides strong protections for privacy and civil liberties, while still enabling effective cyber threat sharing and providing clear authority for the private sector to defend its own networks," U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

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