A cybersecurity bill approved by the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee on Thursday will allow the government and private companies to share information about electronic threats and attacks going forward.
Introduced on Wednesday by Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the bill was approved in a nearly unanimous 17-1 vote, according to a report by Reuters. Dubbed the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011,” the bill would allow the distribution of sensitive information between defense contractors and Internet service providers, closing a rift between the government and the private sector.
The act isn’t without its detractors, however. Critics fear the privacy of American citizens could be compromised by the bill by paving the way for the increased government surveillance of private data.
“They’re just going to blow a hole through all the privacy laws on the books for cyber security purposes,” Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Washington Post on Wednesday. Richardson, along with Laura Murphy, the ACLU’s Director, penned an opposition to the act yesterday, urging Rogers and Ruppersberger to “consider the privacy implications of the bill.”
The bill however, does not mandate that companies share information, said Rogers, who also acts as the committee’s chairman. The government would not be allowed to search collected data, according to the Reuters report, “except to secure cyber networks from attack.”
Companies would be granted the option to share cyber security information, like the IP addresses of hackers, anonymously and to restrict the list of who they share the information with, including the government. Verizon Communications and IBM have already come out in support of the bill, claiming that it will better identify and mitigate cyber threats.
The legislation (.PDF) is likely one of the last cyber security-related bills to be introduced in the House this year, while the Senate is gearing up to debate cyber security legislation extensively in early 2012, lead by Majority Leader Harry Reid.
For the full report, head to Reuters.