NSA chief wants cyber bill to fight hackers

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The head of the National Security Agency wants lawmakers to pass a contentious cybersecurity bill to help federal officials go after hackers.

“I think it's a very important first step,” spy agency director Adm. Michael Rogers said on Fox Business Network on Friday.

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“In the end, the key to our ability to be effective, I believe, as a nation in cyber, will be our ability to span the divide between the private sector and the public sector or the government.”

The controversial bill introduced by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) on Thursday would make it easier for private companies to share information about possible hackers and lines of attack with each other and the government. Backers say it's a critical step to ensure there are no blind spots on the country's networks.

Privacy advocates, however, fear it would allow companies to send personal and identifying information about everyday users to the government, including agencies such as the NSA.

Ruppersberger’s bill has come up twice before in Congress, but failed to reach the finish line. President Obama has pledged to veto previous versions, on the grounds that it does not do enough to protect privacy.

Still, last year’s massive hack at Sony could give momentum for lawmakers looking to bolster the nation’s cyber laws.

The Obama administration has blamed the hack on North Korea, and Rogers on Friday said he has “very high confidence” that Pyongyang was responsible, even though many cyber experts remain skeptical.

On the heels of the recent terrorist attack in Paris, Rogers also raised alarms that terror groups — such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — could develop robust cyber capabilities.

“It's something I pay great attention to,” he said.

“The ability to use cyber as a tool to achieve specific effects is more than just a nation-state phenomenon.”