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Cybersecurity Bill Passes Easily Out of Committee

The House Intelligence Committee wasted no time in marking up and voting to approve (17-1) H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011.

Committee Chairman and bill co-sponsor Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) introduced the bill earlier this week at an event hosted by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which supports the bill along with US Telecom and CTIA: The Wireless Association.

The bill allows, and encourages the government to share certain cyber threat intelligence with private entities, like ISPs, and vice versa. That threat information is any information in the intelligence community directly pertaining to the vulnerability of a network, government or private to efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy the system or steal public or private information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.

The bill was amended Thursday to put several restrictions on how the government can use the cybersecurity threat info it receives from industry. It would prohibit the government from using that info unless it was for either cyber security or national security, and prohibit the government from searching that info for any purpose other than cybersecurity. It also makes explicit that private sector sharing of info is voluntary and the government can't condition its sharing of info on reciprocity.

A second amendment provides for an annual report to Congress from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. The report will review the info shared by the private sector to make sure it was only for cyber security and national security.

The bill now heads to the House floor for a vote.

"The committee vote today on a bipartisan bill to encourage government-industry information sharing is an important step forward in the battle against the pervasive cyber threats confronting our nation, said US Telecom president and CEO Walter McCormick. "The bill sets out concrete steps that will heighten our ability to combat hackers, terrorists and other wrongdoers that attempt to invade critical infrastructure. We congratulate Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger for their leadership in drafting this legislation, and look forward to working with them as the bill moves through the House."