GOP chairman: White House not supporting Intel cyber bill

Lack of White House support for the draft of a Senate Intelligence Committee bill to enhance cybersecurity information-sharing may be delaying the measure, which was expected to be released this week.

Intel’s top two members, Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTop North Carolina newspapers editorial board to GOP: 'Are you OK with a racist president?' Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns GOP senators divided over approach to election security MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse Feinstein introduces bill to prohibit campaigns from using social media bots MORE (D-Calif.), have been collaborating on the measure, which would grant some legal liability protection to companies exchanging cyber threat data with intelligence agencies.


“We’re hearing that the agreement between Senator Burr and Senator Feinstein is holding up,” Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonAlarm sounds over census cybersecurity concerns Ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker takes job as president of conservative group, won't seek office soon Democratic Senate hopes hinge on Trump tide MORE (R-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told The Hill off the Senate floor.

The hold could be an attempt to get the White House on board, Johnson indicated.

“The White House is not a supporter, which is troubling,” added Johnson, whose committee is working on its own cyber info-sharing measure. “I’m hoping they reconsider. I think the Intel bill is well considered.”

“What’s holding it up is that people need to look at it, talk about it a little bit, consider the process,” Feinstein, ranking member on Intelligence, told The Hill.

A White House official said the administration doesn't comment on draft legislation. 

Government officials, lawmakers and industry groups have been pressing for a bill to grow the level of cybersecurity data-sharing between the government and private sector. It’s necessary, they say, to bolster a nation’s cyber defenses repeatedly breached by cyberattackers.

But privacy advocates have worried that an enhanced data flow could encourage more surveillance of Americans.

Homeland Security has been debating its own cyber info-sharing bill to address the issue.

Ranking member Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE (D-Del.) even introduced a version of the measure recently. It would place a civilian agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at the center of the public-private exchange in an effort to quell privacy concerns about intelligence agencies gathering too much sensitive data.

But Johnson has said he wants to wait for the Intelligence bill before his panel moves on anything.

The White House might prefer that Homeland Security move a bill on its own.

The administration wants the DHS at the center of the government’s cyber data-sharing efforts. President Obama recently signed an executive order to make this arrangement more appealing to lawmakers.

The Intelligence Committee bill, modeled after last year’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, would allow more direct sharing between private companies and intelligence agencies.

A draft of the Intelligence bill has been circulating since last week

“I feel pretty good about the draft,” Feinstein said. “It’s a bipartisan draft because that’s the only way a bill is going to pass.”

The California senator said the 2015 bill has new language meant to assuage privacy advocates’ concerns.

“We’ve bent over backwards to try and protect the privacy rights,” she said.

The Intel committee is still hoping to keep its measure on track.

“The hope is to mark it up next week,” Feinstein added. “We’ll see.”

“I can’t predict what happens,” Johnson said. “This is something that we’ve got to work our way through.”