Intel panel approves cybersecurity bill

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 Tuesday to advance a cybersecurity bill that privacy advocates fear will give more information to the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies.

The bill's authors — Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein MORE (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.) — hailed the vote as a step towards protecting the country from growing online threats.

Cybersecurity "is a serious problem and we need to begin" addressing it, Feinstein said after Tuesday's vote.

"No bill is going to be perfect that's going to be able to encompass a bipartisan approach.”

Chambliss said the senators tried to find a middle ground.

"We had to make compromises between what the business sector wanted and what the privacy folks wanted," Chambliss said, adding that the committee did "a good job of achieving compromises on significant issues."

The bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, would encourage private companies to share information about cyber threats with the federal government and each other and give the companies liability protections for sharing information about and responding to cyber threats.

Privacy advocates have slammed the bill, saying it would, among other things, give government agencies — including at the state and local levels — too much information without limiting how they can use it.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (D-Ore.) and Mark UdallMark Emery UdallRecord number of LGBT candidates running for governor Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Democratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat MORE (D-Colo.) — two vocal critics of the NSA — both opposed the bill.

According to a release, the panel adopted seven amendments to the bill, including a managers' amendment from Feinstein and Chambliss to "strengthen privacy protections."

The panel also adopted amendments to create limitations for how long cyber threat information can be retained and to require a report from the Director of National Intelligence on intelligence information sharing.

"We're going to have to watch this bill carefully, watch what happens when it's enacted," Feinstein said, calling it "very much a first step."

She said she has not heard from Senate leadership about moving the bill to the floor but is hopeful the Senate will vote on it this year.

"The cyber threats to our nation are all too real," Chambliss said in a statement, urging Senate leadership to "take up and pass this bill before the August recess.”

-- This post was updated at 6:13 p.m.