The House and Senate are divided over the authority of the U.S. Cyber Command as lawmakers work through the annual defense policy bill.

The House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — which cleared the lower chamber on Wednesday — would elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a standalone warfighting entity.

{mosads}But the provision was notably absent from the Senate version of the defense bill, despite hints from leading Armed Services Committee lawmakers that they were weighing the move. The upper chamber is expected to vote on their version in the upcoming week.

The U.S. military’s cyber unit is currently under the authority of the Strategic Command and shares a commander with the National Security Agency.

But the head of the unit, Adm. Michael Rogers, has pushed for it to be elevated to its own full command, saying it would help it better respond to cyber threats. His calls have found an audience with lawmakers.

The White House is threatening a veto for the House version of the defense bill. It argues that the secretary of Defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “should retain the flexibility to recommend to the President changes to the unified command plan that they believe would most effectively organize the military to address an ever-evolving threat environment.”

The status of Cyber Command isn’t the only high-profile dispute facing lawmakers who are also debating the federal government’s hacking powers.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Thursday introduced his bill blocking an administration request — approved by the Supreme Court last month — that would allow judges to grant a single warrant for multiple electronic searches in different locations, even when investigators don’t know the physical location of a device.

Wyden’s one-page bill, the Stopping Mass Hacking Act, would stop those changes from going into effect in December.

The Department of Justice has defended the proposed changes to what’s known as Rule 41 as merely procedural and necessary to deal with changes in how criminals use technology.

“The amendment would not authorize the government to undertake any search or seizure or use any remote search technique not already permitted under current law, and the amendment does not change any of the traditional protections and procedures, such as the requirement that the government establish probable cause,” DOJ spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.

Privacy advocates disagree, arguing that allowing multi-district, multi-computer searches would allow the government to conduct bulk hacking with very little oversight.

“By allowing so many searches with the order of just a single judge, Congress’s failure to act on this issue would be a disaster for law-abiding Americans,” Wyden said Thursday.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have begun raising questions about the security of a global banking network after an $81 million hack of Bangladesh’s central bank.

“These cyberattacks raise important questions about the security of the SWIFT system and the ability of its members to prevent future attacks,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) wrote in a Thursday letter to New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley and Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) Managing Director Patrick Antonacci.

A number of committees will turn their focus on cybersecurity next week.

The House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee on Tuesday will examine how the Department of Homeland Security is assisting states in preparing for and responding to cyberattacks.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on cybersecurity responsibilities at the Department of Health and Human Services, while the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee will question a State Department official on international cyber strategy.



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Cybercriminals stole $9 million from a bank in Ecuador last year by exploiting the same international messaging service that was compromised in the $81 million hack of Bangladesh’s central bank, a little-noticed lawsuit has revealed.

U.S. intelligence officials are seeing “some indications” that foreign hackers are trying to get access to leading presidential campaigns, the nation’s top intelligence officer warned on Wednesday.

Google on Wednesday announced that its new messaging service, Allo, will offer end-to-end encryption.

A hacker is attempting to sell the account information of 117 million LinkedIn users stolen as part of a 2012 breach that appears much worse than originally thought.

A Democratic congressman who wants to outlaw the use of federal funds for government “backdoors” into commercial devices is pushing back on House leadership for refusing to allow the amendment to come up for a vote as part of the annual defense authorization bill.

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