March 12, 2015 / 9:09 PM / 3 years ago

Senate committee advances 'threat-sharing' cybersecurity bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14-1 on Thursday to approve a bill intended to enhance information sharing between private companies and intelligence agencies about cybersecurity threats.

The panel’s approval cleared the way for a vote in the full Senate on the measure, which would extend some legal liability protection to companies to make it easier for them to share data with the government to help prevent and respond to cyberattacks.

Some privacy advocates opposed the bill, worrying that it would do too little to prevent more data collection by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies. Such surveillance has come under scrutiny since 2013 disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Privacy concerns were cited by the only member of the committee who voted against the bill, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. “It’s a surveillance bill by another name,” Wyden said in a statement.

The measure was partly inspired by recent cyberattacks on major corporations, including Sony. Several major firms, including Microsoft Corp, Lockheed Martin and Morgan Stanley, had pushed for a threat-sharing bill, according to media reports.

Given its strong support in the committee, the measure is given a good chance of passing when it comes up for a vote in the full Senate, most likely in the coming months.

But it also must win passage in the House of Representatives to be sent for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he was optimistic the panel would have its own bill in the coming weeks.

Editing by Sandra Maler and Will Dunham

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