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Financial lobby warns against sunset for cyber sharing bills

Financial lobby warns against sunset for cyber sharing bills

A top financial lobbying group is concerned about an amendment that would force two major House cybersecurity bills to sunset after seven years.

The bills would give companies liability protections when sharing cyber threat data with the government.

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The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) worries the end date will cause businesses to sit out the first seven years of the voluntary program, waiting to see if it becomes permanent.

“This nation’s cybersecurity problems won’t dissolve after seven years,” said FSR CEO Tim Pawlenty. “If anything, they will become increasingly more complicated.”

The House is expected on Wednesday and Thursday to approve both bills to boost public-private information sharing about hackers’ tactics.

Industry groups, including FSR, support the overall bill, as do many lawmakers and government officials.

Privacy advocates believe the measure will simply further embolden the National Security Agency (NSA), handing it more sensitive data on Americans.

While the Rules Committee decided not to let some of the more controversial privacy-related amendments get full floor votes, it will let lawmakers decide if they want the bills to have expiration dates.

Democrats tried to tack on sunset clauses of various lengths — from five to 15 years — during markups and preceding a Rules Committee meeting.

Republicans blocked the move at markup, arguing a sunset provision would make threat-sharing efforts seem like a pilot program. But the Rules Committee decided to let the seven-year sunset language get another shot on the floor.

And it might have a chance.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who backs one of the bills, said Tuesday he could support a seven-year reauthorization clause. The Texas Republican opposed a shorter offering during markup.

But Pawlenty said the "uncertainty caused by the need to reauthorize this legislation will disincentivize businesses from engaging in this critical process, leaving more American consumers at risk for cyberattacks."

FSR’s members include banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo; insurers, such as Allstate and Nationwide; and credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa.