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Yesterday, the US Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill prompting companies to exchange hacking attempts and cybersecurity threats with the US government.

Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein stated, “Cyber attacks present the greatest threat to our national and economic security today, and the magnitude of the threat is growing.” Feinstein added, “The bill is an important step toward curbing the dangers of cyber attacks.”

The committee voted 12-3 to advance the bill.

To supporters, the bill is seen as an opportunity for Congress to encourage greater cooperation between the government and private companies in order to boost the cyber protection of businesses within all industries.

In addition, the bill would allow companies and consenting customers to monitor their own networks and voluntarily share cyber threat data with the government and each other.

Other factors that would result in the legislation include:

  • Directing the US Director of National Intelligence to increase the amount of information the government shares with private firms
  • Directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to set up and manage a data sharing portal
  • Offer liability protections to companies properly monitoring their networks or sharing cyber threat data
  • Limit the government’s ability to use data it receives

Although US lawmakers have been attempting legislation for information sharing for many months now, privacy advocates and recent controversies, such as Edward Snowden and NSA spying, have impacted the process.

The Senate bill must still be approved by the full Senate and reconciled by the House of Representatives before officially being instated as law.

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