House passes final version of cyber bill

The final text of a major cybersecurity bill passed the House on Friday as part of a sweeping omnibus spending package.

The omnibus passed by a vote of 316-113.

The $1.15 trillion spending bill will shortly head to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved within a few hours.


The cybersecurity bill provides incentives for companies to share data on hacking threats with the government without fear of facing customer lawsuits.

The White House has indicated it will sign the omnibus, which will make the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 law.

"It’s a step in the right direction to allow sharing," Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told The Hill after the vote. "Clearly we wanted to get it done for five years and there’s been a lot of work. We’re happy to get it across the finish line."

The bill would be the biggest piece of cyber legislation Congress has passed since a 2013 holiday shopping season data breach at Target started a tidal wave of hacks that have since hit retailers like Home Depot, banks like JPMorgan, health insurers like Anthem and government agencies like the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Proponents — including many industry groups, most lawmakers and the White House — say the bill is the biggest step Congress has taken to reduce the effect of these breaches, which have exposed hundred of millions of Americans' personal data.

But privacy advocates and digital rights groups have long warned that the measure will simply restore surveillance powers to the National Security Agency (NSA), by allowing companies to share large swaths of personal data with the government.

Other critics have also expressed concerns that the bill would do nothing to prevent the kind of hacks — like the OPM breach — that were used to justify its passage.

As the bill moved through Congress, backers injected clauses they said will ensure all personal details are stripped before any information is shared across the government.

The House passed its two complementary measures in April and the Senate followed with its companion legislation in October.