The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee introduced on Tuesday long-awaited legislation intended to enhance information sharing between private companies and intelligence agencies about cyber security threats.
Prompted in part by high-profile cyber attacks on corporations, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act would make it easier for companies to share data with the government to help prevent and respond to cyber attacks.
“This is a growing concern and getting worse,” Republican. Representative Devin Nunes, the intelligence panel’s chairman, told reporters.
The intelligence panel is due to vote on the legislation on Thursday. If passed by the committee as expected, aides said they expect a vote in the full House in late April.
Similar legislation is also making its way through the Senate. The House Homeland Security Committee has unveiled its own measure, seen as a companion to the House Intelligence bill.
The measures offer corporations liability protection if they share information with intelligence agencies. Data handed over also would be “scrubbed” twice to remove personal information.
The bills are given a good chance of passing, despite privacy advocates’ worries that they do too little to prevent more data collection by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies.
Such surveillance has come under scrutiny since 2013 disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
If passed, the separate bills would have to be reconciled before being sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to veto or sign into law.
The House has passed legislation before to help companies share information on cyber threats, but it fizzled in the Senate after Obama threatened a veto over privacy concerns, particularly from his fellow Democrats.
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said he believed the new bill addressed the privacy concerns that stalled the last bill.
Republicans now control both the House and Senate, after election victories in November.
Nunes said the White House had helped develop the bill, and it was up to the Obama administration to support it. If not, he said the legislation would have to wait until there is a new president in 2017.
“If they issue a veto threat or say anything negative about this legislation, it’s dead,” Nunes said.
White House officials did not immediately comment.
Private industry is also alarmed by the frequency of attacks on corporate networks, such as recent assaults on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Home Depot.