Senate Dem introduces White House cyber bill

Senate Dem introduces White House cyber bill
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Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (D-Del.) introduced on Wednesday a bill to enhance cybersecurity information sharing between the private sector and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Such a bill is at the top of industry groups' and the administration's congressional cyber agenda, and many see it as one of the few pieces of legislation that could get a presidential signature this year.  

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“One of our top priorities in Congress must be to promote the sharing of cyber threat data among the private sector and the federal government to defend against cyberattacks and encourage better coordination,” said Carper, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

The measure — known as the Cyber Threat Intelligence Sharing Act — would give companies legal liability protections when sharing cyber threat data with the DHS’s cyber info hub, known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). Companies would have to make "reasonable efforts" to remove personally identifiable information before sharing any data. 

The bill also lays out a rubric for how the NCCIC can share that data with other federal agencies, requiring it to minimize identifying information and limiting government uses for the data. Transparency reports and a five-year sunset clause would attempt to ensure the program maintains its civil liberties protections and effectiveness. 

The private sector, government officials and lawmakers mostly agree that increased cyber data sharing is needed to better protect the nation's networks against the rising tide of cyberattacks that have hit companies like Target, Home Depot and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In the past, concerns that a cyber info-sharing bill would enable the government to collect more personal information on Americans have derailed info-sharing efforts.

“We must all work together to find a legislative solution that will address our cybersecurity needs while upholding the civil liberties we all cherish,” Carper said.

Carper's bill closely resembles the centerpiece of the White House's recent cyber legislative offerings. One of the proposed bills put the NCCIC at the center of the government’s public-private cyber data sharing program.

“This bill reflects the valuable input of the administration,” said Carper, adding that it also includes ideas from a recent committee hearing on the subject.

Previously, congressional efforts at cyber info-sharing legislation have made the National Security Agency (NSA) the point agency for the program, driving some of the privacy concerns that hurt lawmakers’ efforts.

Privacy advocates have been suspect of giving the NSA more power following the discovery of several secret spy programs at the agency. 

The White House decision to put DHS at the center of its proposal reshifted lawmakers focus on the topic and put more attention on the Homeland Security committee.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is still expected to release its own version of a more NSA-focused information-sharing bill sometime this year.

In the House, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) introduced his own version of an intelligence community-centric bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), earlier this year.

Carper and Committee chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (R-Wisc.) have said they expect to play a heightened role in the info-sharing debate this year, working with with the Intelligence committee on its upcoming offering. Both committees are optimistic about a bipartisan agreement.

Carper had vowed in January he would introduce a version of the White House proposal, hopefully with Johnson.

“That doesn’t mean we agree with every piece of it, just to make sure it’s not forgotten,” he told The Hill at the time.

Carper is thus far going it alone on his bill, but a spokesperson for Johnson said the chairman "appreciates" Carper's efforts on the measure and "looks forward to working with [Carper] and others to pass legislation."

Carper insisted Wednesday that lawmakers can't wait on this bill.

“Given the threats we face today, we must move with a sense of urgency.” he said. “The country is counting on us.”

— Updated 6:19 p.m.