Last week, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously passed out of committee the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 3523). The bill would “permit cybersecurity service providers and businesses that operate their own cybersecurity systems to share information related to potential cybersecurity threats with other businesses and the federal government. Such threats include efforts to interfere with a cybersecurity network, or threats involving the theft of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.”
The fact the bill was voted out of committee is significant because it received unanimous bipartisan support and it signals a piece meal approach to cybersecurity reform. For example, Congressman Thornberry who serves as the vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee testified last week during the Subcommittee of Health Care and Technology that he preferred cybersecurity reform through passage of several bills as opposed to one comprehensive cybersecurity bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The next step for the bill is a floor vote. However, the ACLU is strongly opposed to H.R. 3523, and it remains to be seen whether opposition from civil liberty and privacy advocates will keep the bill from clearing the house. In the meantime, the White House has signed off on the bill which gives it tremendous momentum.