(Photo by Michael L. Lewis/U.S. Army)
It’s not CISPA, but the U.S. House of Representatives passed cybersecurity legislation on Wednesday that allows information sharing between federal intelligence agencies and private companies. And this time, the bill appears to have the backing of President Obama.
The Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) passed the House by a vote of 307-116. The bill sets up a network of information sharing that lets government and companies warn each other about potential hacks. Companies are offered a measure of legal immunity to keep them from being sued for sharing data.
Passing a cybersecurity information-sharing bill is nothing new in the House. Baltimore-area Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger has introduced his Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) three times. Two versions passed, but were ultimately held up.
A third version was introduced just before the first of the year. It didn’t pass, but Ruppersberger backed it, taking to the House floor to voice support.
“Target, Home Depot and CareFirst are only the beginning,” Ruppersberger said, referencing three of the biggest hacks of 2014. “With Sony, we saw the first destructive attack in our country.”
The biggest change with the new bill might be the President’s stance. According to Wired, the White House signaled support for this bill, while CISPA was met with veto threats. The fallout from the Sony hack led the president to make cybersecurity a new priority, and his support for such a bill is one of the results.
Civil liberties groups, however, are holding firm in their opposition.
Groups like the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch issued a letter opposing the bill on Tuesday. The groups argue that the bill is another way for the government to get more access to data. A corresponding Senate bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) still needs to pass the Senate before any bill would go to the President’s desk.
The PCNA bill “fails to provide strong privacy protections or adequate clarity about what actions can be taken, what information can be shared and how that information may be used by the government,” the letter states.-30-
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