New cyber-bill would let feds share classified intel with private corporations

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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House Permanent Select Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, introduced new legislation Wednesday that would give the federal government “new authority to share classified information with approved American companies.”

While the legislation adds to the growing list of pending “cybersecurity” bills in Congress, this new bill will also allow private sector businesses “to share information anonymously or restrict who they share with, including the government.”

Intelligence could be shared within and between corporations and defense contractors, subcontractors and agencies — provided they all possess the necessary clearance levels to access that information. An annual review of sharing and use of information to “ensure the protection of privacy and protection of civil liberties” would also be conducted.

In a joint statement, Rogers and Ruppersberger said their bill “does not contain any new federal spending or impose additional federal regulation or unfunded mandates on the private sector.”

The federal government is already working in some capacity with private corporations to ensure better cyber protections in what Rogers called “an economic war going on today against U.S. companies.”

The Defense Department announced its first official cyber strategy this summer, which included cooperation with private sector corporations. Reuters reported in October that the National Security Agency — an intelligence agency within DoD — was providing Wall Street banks with intelligence to better protect themselves against foreign hackers.

“There are two types of companies in this country: those who know they’ve been hacked, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked,” said Rogers. “Economic predators, including nation-states, are blatantly stealing business secrets and innovation from private companies.”

The private sector, experts agree, is best equipped to deal with cyber threats since corporations are in the midst of the battle, and can quickly adapt IT security systems to changes in threats, as opposed to the slow moving machine of government.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) President and CEO Michael Powell said in a statement following the event, “We appreciate that this legislation avoids a prescriptive regulatory regime that does not fit the constantly evolving cyber threat environment and it appropriately allows individual companies to determine how they can best participate.”

NCTA hosted the media event at which the congressmen introduced the bill.

China Daily reported on Wednesday on a recent International Data Corp. study showing that approximately 86 percent of companies in China “use pirated software because of its low price.”

“Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the BSA [Business Software Alliance], said last month in Beijing that lawsuits over the use of pirated software from companies like Microsoft Corp and Adobe Systems Inc are likely to increase in China in the next year,” China Daily reported.

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