U.S. House seen passing cyber threat information bill Wednesday

Reuters News
|
Posted: Apr 21, 2015 2:23 PM

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider, and pass, on Wednesday a long-awaited bill that would make it easier for companies to share information about cyber security threats with the government without fear of lawsuits.

Congressional aides said on Tuesday they expected lawmakers would take up the bill during Wednesday's House session and that it would pass with support from both Republicans and Democrats.

The House Intelligence Committee approved the bill unanimously last month. Similar legislation has stalled in the past, but the issue has taken on more urgency following high-profile cyber attacks on major corporations, including Sony.

A companion bill is making its way through the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to pass easily. The Senate Intelligence Committee passed its version of the legislation 14-1 in March and aides said it was likely to come up for a vote in the full Senate in the coming weeks.

The White House has not yet taken a position on the legislation, but congressional aides said President Barack Obama's administration has been working with lawmakers on the measure and he is not expected to oppose the bill.

Administration officials could not immediately confirm those comments.

The House bill has been in the works for years. Previous versions have stalled, with opponents concerned about the potential for more government surveillance.

Some privacy advocates strongly oppose the legislation, saying it would do too little to prevent more data collection by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies. Such surveillance has come under scrutiny since 2013 disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Corporations have been clamoring for Congress to extend legal liability protections to them so they can more easily share data with the government to help prevent and respond to cyber attacks.

Several major companies, including Microsoft Corp, Lockheed Martin and Morgan Stanley, had pushed for a threat-sharing bill.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio)