WASHINGTON, June 17 The U.S. Senate Intelligence
Committee is expected to consider a bill next week aimed at
encouraging companies to exchange information on hacking
attempts and cybersecurity threats with the government, senators
said on Tuesday as they released a draft of the legislation.
Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat,
and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, spent
more than a month smoothing out disagreements that have thwarted
passage of such legislation in the past.
Although the politically polarized Congress has just over
seven weeks left to pass new laws, the bill's authors have
expressed optimism about passing it this year. U.S. Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in May also told the Reuters
Cybersecurity Summit that he expected Congress to agree on cyber
legislation this summer.
U.S. lawmakers have been considering legislation to help
private companies better communicate about security breaches and
cyber threats with the government and each other, but spats over
liability and privacy protections have thwarted passage of
comprehensive cyber security bills thus far.
The bill by Feinstein and Chambliss would offer companies
liability protections for monitoring their networks for hacking
attempts and for sharing cyberdata with the government through
the Department of Homeland Security, which would immediately
disseminate the information to relevant federal agencies.
The legislation would also require companies to remove
personally identifiable information before sharing cyber data.
The U.S. attorney general would establish procedures to
limit the government's use of cyber data, and the Privacy and
Civil Liberties Oversight Board and federal inspectors general
would monitor application of the law.
Chambliss earlier this month said he was confident he and
Feinstein could "pretty quickly" combine their bill with the one
passed last year in the House of Representatives, which he said
differed from the Senate bill on liability protections offered
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives last year
for the second time passed legislation addressing cyber
information sharing, but efforts fizzled in the Senate, where
many Democrats had sought a broader bill.
Privacy advocates have opposed giving companies liability
protections, worried about abuses of consumer data both by the
private sector and the government.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)