U.S. House committee advances ‘threat-sharing’ cybersecurity bill

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(Reuters) – The U.S. House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Thursday to advance a long-awaited bill that would make easier for companies to share information about cybersecurity threats the government without the fear lawsuits.

A committee spokesman said the panel approved the measure unanimously, by voice vote, during a closed . The legislation is expected to come before the full House as soon as late April, after lawmakers return from a two-week early April recess.

Similar legislation is making its way through the U.S. Senate and backers both bills say they have a good chance passing after repeated setbacks.

The House bill has been the works for five years, and previous versions have stalled before becoming law, largely due to concerns by privacy advocates worried that they could lead to more surveillance.

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The measure offers corporations liability protection if they share information through a civilian portal, most likely to be run by the Department Homeland Security. Data handed over also would be “scrubbed” twice to remove personal information.

U.S. corporations have been clamoring for more protection against cyberattacks, but they also worry about potential lawsuits if they hand information over to government investigators.

industry is alarmed by the frequency of attacks corporate networks, such as recent assaults Sony Pictures and Depot.

Many , meanwhile, have become hugely concerned about the government’s access to their data, particularly since 2013 disclosures by former Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the bulk collection of citizens’ telephone .