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US senate panel secretly approves cyberthreat sharing bill

Grant Gross | March 16, 2015
A U.S. Senate committee has voted in secret to approve a controversial bill that seeks to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats with each other and with government agencies.

"The devil is in the details ... and we will be looking very closely at the language to determine whether the changes effectively protect Americans' privacy," Greene said by email. "Based on how dangerously broad and vague the last version of the bill was, it would be surprising if the bill agreed to in secret today will garner the support of the privacy community."

The committee also held a closed vote on a cyberthreat information-sharing bill during the last session of Congress, when Feinstein was chairwoman. That legislation failed to pass through Congress partly because digital rights and privacy groups voiced privacy concerns.

A similar bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act [CISPA] failed to pass through Congress in 2013 after online protests over the amount of information it would allow companies to share.

Still, momentum to pass a cyberthreat sharing bill may be growing. Early this year, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a bill that includes privacy protections, but it's unclear how his proposal differs from the Senate Intelligence version.

In February, Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, introduced the Cyber Threat Sharing Act, which is similar to Obama's proposal. That bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, but the committee hasn't acted on it yet.

 

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