The U.S. House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed cybersecurity bill, a day after President Barack Obama’s administration called the measure flawed and threatened a veto.
The bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, passed the House today by a vote of 248 to 168. The measure, introduced by Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, would encourage the government and companies to share data on cyber threats and give businesses legal immunity for such exchanges.
House Speaker John Boehner told reporters before the vote the bill is the first of “common-sense steps to allow people to communicate with each other” to “build the walls that are necessary in order to prevent cyberterrorism.”
Lawmakers are debating cybersecurity legislation following computer assaults on companies last year including New York- based Citigroup Inc. (C), the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, and Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the world’s largest defense company. The attacks intensified concerns over theft of U.S. intellectual property by cyber spies and potential disruption of essential networks by hackers.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, brushed aside the Obama administration’s veto threat, saying “the White House believes the government ought to control the Internet” by letting government alone set security standards.
The Obama administration said in a statement yesterday it “strongly opposes” the House bill in its current form, adding that the measure falls short in protecting the nation’s critical systems from cyber attacks and would erode consumer-privacy safeguards. Civil liberties groups have protested the legislation, saying it would let too much personal data flow to the government without limits on use.
“As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back,” Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an e-mailed statement. “We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity,” Richardson said.
The White House supports a bill from Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, that would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of regulating cybersecurity of the nation’s vital systems such as power grids and water-treatment plants. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has pledged to bring the Lieberman bill to the Senate floor without giving a date.
The Rogers bill is H.R. 3523. The Lieberman bill is S. 2105.
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