Companies that share information on hacking threats with each other and U.S. law enforcement would be shielded from lawsuits under a House bill passed Wednesday over the objections of privacy advocates.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers Association and other industry groups sought legal protections that would encourage information sharing to help prevent increasingly damaging cyber-attacks. A coalition of civil liberties groups said the bill won’t protect consumers and would create a new government surveillance program.
The Senate is considering its own version of the legislation, which might be voted on next week. The Senate and House would then have to negotiate a final deal before any bill goes to President Barack Obama to sign.
“The increasing pace and scope of cyber-attacks cannot be ignored,” said Representative Devin Nunes, a California Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, which wrote the bill. “This bill will strengthen our digital defenses so that American consumers and businesses will not be put at the mercy of malevolent cyberthieves.”
The bill, H.R. 1560, was passed 307-116.
The House also approved an amendment so the legislation would expire in seven years.
Republicans plan to combine the bill with another cybersecurity measure, H.R. 1731, that’s expected to be passed on Thursday.
The White House on Tuesday said it supported both House bills but would seek to make further changes to them, including adding more privacy controls and limiting liability protections for companies.
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