House Clears Bill to Share Internet Data for Security; Act Faces Uphilll Battle with Privacy Advocates

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Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Shrugging off complaints from privacy groups and a veto threat from President Obama, the House passed a major cybersecurity bill Thursday that legalizes voluntary information-sharing between the private sector and the government about Internet threats to the nation's infrastructure and business sector.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) now has to wait until the Senate acts. The upper chamber is considering a different cybersecurity bill, one that takes a regulation-based approach backed by the White House but is opposed by most Republicans.

The House-passed legislation fails to address cybersecurity threats in a manner that preserves Americans' privacy, data confidentiality and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace, according to the White House.

Despite the veto threat and its uncertain future, the House bill passed on a fairly bipartisan 248-168 vote, enjoying the support of more than 40 Democrats but with nearly 30 Republicans opposing it.

It's an important although modest step forward, former U.S. cybersecurity official Donald A. Andy Purdy said of the House vote. But it's unclear what's going to happen in the Senate.

No floor time has been scheduled for consideration of the Senate bill, noted Mr. Purdy, now an executive with Falls Church-based computer security firm CSC Inc.

The sometimes-heated debate Thursday on the House floor was the culmination of a years-long process, during which legislation to defend vital national computer networks from hackers, cyberspies and Internet warfare has languished in both chambers of Congress. …