By Katie Rucke | July 11, 2014
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 on Tuesday to approve a cybersecurity bill authored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss. Known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, it would essentially remove the legal restrictions that currently bar companies from sharing information with the government.
The text of the bill has not been released to the public yet, but Feinstein released a statement earlier this week claiming that the bill would increase the amount of information related to cybersecurity threats and defensive mechanisms that can be shared between the government and businesses, including those in the private sector.
Feinstein argued without these changes, businesses and the U.S. government will be subject to cyber threats that often result in losses of large amounts of money as well as the theft of Americans’ personal information.
Though they haven’t had access to the text of the legislation, about 20 different privacy and civil liberties advocates have expressed concern about the bill, which is similar to bills proposed in the last few years. They point out that the language strips Americans of their rights to privacy and allows the National Security Agency to obtain information on Americans.
Feinstein shared that under the new Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, the director of national intelligence would be allowed to share classified and unclassified information with businesses in the private sector; individuals and companies would be authorized to monitor computer networks of consenting customers and implement measures to block threats; and the federal government would be required to create a “portal,” managed by the Department of Homeland Security, where cyber information would be shared.
“Cyber attacks present the greatest threat to our national and economic security today, and the magnitude of the threat is growing,” Feinstein said. “Every week we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks. This bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyber attacks.”