Tech group representing Google, Yahoo backs CISPA

Privacy and civil liberties groups have been pushing for the bill to be amended so it would put a civilian agency, like the Department of Homeland Security, in charge of information-sharing efforts between industry and the government. Privacy advocates have argued that a civilian agency should be in charge of receiving cyber threat data, such as malicious source code, from companies first before passing it on to other intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency.

The bill would allow companies to share cyber threat data directly with the NSA, along with other government agencies.

While privacy groups have staunchly opposed CISPA, it has received backing from several industry groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Information Technology Industry Council.

Several high-profile tech executives sit on TechNet's executive council, including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Oracle President Safra Catz and venture capitalist John Doerr. A list of the members on TechNet's executive council are printed on the letter that the trade group sent to House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

CISPA is aimed at encouraging industry and the government to share information about malicious source code and other online threats with each other in real time, so companies and government agencies can take steps to thwart cyberattacks.

The bill is intended to remove the legal hurdles that discourage companies from sharing cyber threat data with the government. Companies have said they are hesitant to share threat information with the government because it may result in legal action against them.

CISPA passed the House Intelligence panel on a 18-2 vote on Wednesday and is headed to the House floor for a vote next week. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) voted against the measure, citing privacy concerns. 

The White House issued a veto threat against CISPA last year, in part, because of concerns that it lacked sufficient privacy protections for people's information online.

Following Wednesday's markup, a White House spokeswoman said the changes adopted to CISPA "reflect a good faith effort" to address some of the substantive concerns it has with the measure, but don't go far enough to solve its "fundamental" issues with the bill.