Bill to foster threat data sharing draws mixed reactions

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A bill introduced in the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday to promote the sharing of cyberthreat information between the public and private sectors has garnered both praise and criticism.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, introduced by the committee's Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., would give the federal government authority to share classified cyberthreat information with members of the private sector in an effort to help businesses better protect their networks. The legislation would allow enterprises to share threat details with the government anonymously on a voluntarily basis.

“Economic predators, including nation-states, are blatantly stealing business secrets and innovation from private companies,” Rogers said in a news release. “This cybersecurity bill goes a long way in helping American businesses better protect their networks and their intellectual property.”

However, opinions of the bill have been mixed. The telecommunications industry has supported the legislation, while civil liberties advocates and the White House have expressed concern.

“We appreciate that this legislation avoids a prescriptive regulatory regime that does not fit the constantly evolving cyberthreat environment,” Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said in a statement. “This legislation will protect both our national security and our customers.”

On the contrary, members of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a letter to Rogers and Ruppersberger that they would “vigorously oppose” the bill unless changes were made to limit the collection and use of private data shared with the government.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, agreed that the legislation may not sufficiently safeguard civil liberties and privacy.

“The administration will not support anything that does not include a customized set of requirements for privacy protection,” a White House spokeswoman said in a statement sent to on Thursday. “Also, we believe that the inclusion of generous liability and anti-trust protections could limit the government's ability to protect citizens and hold corporations accountable.”

The bill would require the federal government to review the sharing and use of information to ensure civil liberties and privacy rights are protected.


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