WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama would veto a cyber security bill being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives if it was presented to him for signature, the White House said on Wednesday, citing privacy and oversight concerns.
The bill, which the House is expected to start debating on Thursday and to vote upon on Friday, would allow the government and corporations to share information about hacking attacks.
But critics warn the measure would give the government free rein to monitor communications, filter content from websites, and possibly shut down access to online services.
The White House, in explaining its opposition, said the bill failed to protect core U.S. infrastructure “while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy ... safeguards.”
House Republican Mike Rogers and his congressional colleague, Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger, say their bill will help fight one of the biggest threats facing the country.
“Congress must lead on this critical issue and we hope the White House will join us,” they said in a joint statement. They also noted that steps had been taken to amend the bill to address privacy and civil liberty concerns.
Other cyber security legislation is being considered in the U.S. Senate, but the two congressmen say that their bill was the only one moving at present.
The White House, in additional criticism, said the House bill treated cyber security as an intelligence activity that risked longstanding efforts to preserve the civilian nature of the Internet and cyberspace.
“Legislation should address core critical infrastructure vulnerabilities without sacrificing the fundamental values of privacy and civil liberties for our citizens,” the White House said in a statement.
Accordingly, if it were presented to Obama “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” it said.
Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler