White House, Lawmakers Discuss New Cybersecurity Bill (CISPA)

White House Discusses Cyber Security ThreatsAccording to a February 26, 2013 joint resolution of Congress, the U.S. requires better coordination of cybersecurity research and development efforts between public and private sectors. Reuters reports that that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and the White House have resumed negotiation on a new cybersecurity bill called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

The bill is intended to remove legal hurdles that prevent the federal government and private companies from sharing intelligence about cyber threats with each other in real time.

The House passed a similar bill last year, but it failed in the Senate.

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US. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the two sides are “very close” to an agreement over what roles the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies might have in keeping the country safe from cyber threats.

Rogers hopes to wrap up negotiations and draft a bill by April.  Current discussions are informal and no text has been drafted to date. Rogers says a renewed interest in the talks has been generated due to increasing worries about the cost of cyber attacks.  “What helped is that the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal were all hacked and they talked about it publicly,” he told Reuters. “It is starting to raise awareness. I can feel movement.”

Additionally, Iran’s denial-of-service attacks against U.S. banks in recent months have also heightened awareness around the need for a new bill. Rogers called such attacks a “probing action” and said additional attacks would likely follow.

According to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), one of the sticking points in negotiations is whether or not businesses should be required to strip personally identifiable information from information they share with the government.  “We’re going to try to do what we can to deal with the issue,” he said. “I think if we can resolve this, we can probably get a bill passed. You’re not going to please everybody, but I think we can get a bill.”

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Both Ruppersberger and Rogers said the U.S. government should also put more pressure on countries like China to stop hacker attacks designed to steal intellectual property from American companies.

House members told Reuters that the country cannot focus on confronting economic espionage from China and other countries until the bill is written and signed into law.