U.S. Senate Takes Up Cybersecurity Bill This Week

The Senate is expected to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015

Digital Content Group
Aug 4, 2015 at 1:34 PM
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate will consider a cybersecurity bill this week that would make it easier for corporations share Americans' personal information with each other or the government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.

"I urge the Senate to allow us to act and pass it this week," he said, urging lawmakers to allow a vote on the bill before leaving for a four-week recess at the end of the week.

The House of Representative passed its version of the bill in April. But privacy concerns stalled the measure in the Senate despite strong support from corporations that see it as a key to preventing more cyber attacks like the high-profile assaults on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Target Corp.

A massive theft of data from computers of the government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM), blamed on China, has also fueled calls to pass the legislation. China has dismissed suggestions it was behind the hacking.

The influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group sent a letter on Monday to every member of the Senate urging them to take up and immediately pass the "Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015."

Senate aides said the bill will pass easily once it comes up for a vote. It has been stalled by the concerns of some privacy advocates worried it would make it too easy for companies to hand Americans' personal information over to the government.

It is the third attempt to pass such a cybersecurity bill in recent years. Two previous bills stalled in the Senate.

According to documents seen by Reuters, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, the panel's top Democrat have proposed changes to the bill that would, among things, limit government use of any shared information only to investigate and prosecute cybersecurity crimes.

"This bill is bipartisan. It is narrowly focused, and it puts in place a number of privacy protections," Feinstein said in a speech urging support.

The intelligence committee approved the measure in March 14-1. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, the only panel member who voted against it in the committee, still wants McConnell to allow lawmakers to offer amendments to improve it.

If the bill passes, as expected, it would still have to be reconciled with the measure passed by the House before it could be sent for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

 

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio)

 

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