Cybersecurity bill advances in the US
Bill may give immunity to telcos that reveal customers' private information to government.
The US House Intelligence Committee approved a bill encouraging telecommunications companies including Verizon Communications and Comcast to share data on hacker attacks with the US government.
Under the measure, which cleared today in a 17 to 1 vote, companies would be protected from civil or criminal lawsuits for "acting in good faith" to inform government agencies that hackers had attacked their computer systems or compromised personal information.
"Our bill does not require additional federal spending or the creation of a new government bureaucracy," Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the committee, said in a statement.
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"It does not impose additional federal regulation or unfunded mandates on the private sector. To the contrary, the bill is a critical, bipartisan first step to empowering the private sector to do even more to protect its own networks."
Cable, internet and telecommunications providers have backed the legislation allowing them to share information with the government on a voluntary basis, while giving corporations access to classified intelligence on cybersecurity threats so they can protect their networks.
The government would certify companies that are qualified to receive classified intelligence.
"Coordination and information-sharing are now accepted and expected practices in preventing crimes that seek to damage critical infrastructure, such as communications networks," Peter Davidson, Verizon's senior vice president for federal government relations, said in a statement before today's vote.
The bill "improves our nation's ability to identify and mitigate cyber threats before they can do damage," he said.
Privacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have criticised the measure, expressing concern that it would circumvent existing law, and let companies give personal information to the government while granting corporations legal protections from lawsuits by consumer advocates or citizen groups.
To address privacy and civil liberties concerns, the bill specifies that the government can only use information from companies for cybersecurity or national security purposes, Rogers said.
Democrats added an amendment directing the inspector general for US intelligence agencies to review and report on government use of the data that companies provide.
The bill, HR 3523, advanced as the Obama administration tells telecommunications companies to divulge confidential information about their networks in a hunt for Chinese cyberspying.
The US Commerce Department distributed a survey in April to dozens of telecommunication, software and information-security companies, requiring a detailed outline of who made the equipment they use.
Chinese phone-equipment makers Huawei Technologies and ZTE are the subject of a House Intelligence Committee investigation into the possible security risks of the companies' US expansion.
The probe is focusing on whether their presence provides "the Chinese government an opportunity for foreign espionage," Rogers and C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, the committee's top Democrat, said in a November 17 statement.
Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island and member of the committee, said it would be a mistake to think that the bill is sufficient on its own to fully address the nation's cybersecurity challenges.
Langevin, who co-chaired an independent commission on cybersecurity, also said he has "'very strong'' privacy concerns about the bill.
''Pushing out information is only one piece of the public- private partnership'' that the commission envisioned, he said in a statement. ''A number of other elements will be vital to addressing the enormous intellectual property losses experienced by our public and private sectors, as well as the alarming vulnerabilities within our critical infrastructure.''
The US government has recently stepped up its cybersecurity campaign. It has also strengthened efforts for greater cyber cooperation with Australia.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/securit...#ixzz1fNHtWFFH
folks this is not just about hackers , this is every single person on the planet ..
the government wont spy on you but they'll allow your ISP to do it and supply the gov with the info in a deal where the telco wont be held responcible if its users down load copyrighted materials ...
they created the copy right scam as a huge hammer to hold over the telco's and media sites to get what they want , all of what you do and where you go online ...
is it 1984 already ??