Bill would allow feds to share classified cyber information with private sector

Wednesday - 11/30/2011, 3:25pm EST

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House today would allow the federal government to share classified cybersecurity threat information with private companies.

The "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011", introduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) aims to better protect businesses from "economic predators" — hackers that steal intellectual property.

Companies that participate in the program will be encouraged to share information among themselves and the government on a voluntary basis. Companies that do share information will be eligible for liability protection, according to the legislation.

"There is an economic cyber war going on today against U.S. companies," Rogers said in a statement. "Economic predators, including nation-states, are blatantly stealing business secrets and innovation from private companies. This cybersecurity bill goes a long way in helping American businesses better protect their networks and their intellectual property."

Companies would be allowed to share information anonymously. The bill also requires Congress to review how the government has used the information to ensure privacy rights and civil liberties are protected.

"This bill is a good start toward helping the private sector safeguard its intellectual property and critical cyber networks," Ruppersberger said. He also cited the bill's civil-liberties protections and the fact that it wouldn't lead to new federal spending or regulations.

Rogers and Ruppersberger unveiled the bill at a National Cable & Telecommunications Association forum Wednesday morning.

The NCTA applauded the bill, in part, because it "avoids a prescriptive regulatory regime" that doesn't fit the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

The House Intelligence Committee is set to mark up the bill as early as this week.