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House Faces Both Support and Criticism over Cybersecurity Bills Discussed this Past Week

As reported by The Hill this past week, the House was set to discuss two important Cybersecurity Bills, both expected to pass. According to the proposed bill, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act is intended “to improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.” Separately, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act is an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and according to that proposed bill it is expected “to enhance multi-directional sharing of information related to cyber-security risks and strengthen privacy and civil liberties, protections, and for other purposes..

On the surface, neither of the proposed bills seems problematic. There is some significant support for the bill, as noted in The Hill’s piece Tech will be watching cyber vote – in that the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) has already sent a letter to the House expressing its support for the bills. In the letter ITI said that it “firmly believe[s] that passing legislation to help to increase voluntary cybersecurity threat information and sharing between the private sector, is an important step Congress can take to enable all stakeholders to address threats, stem losses, and shield their systems, partners and customers.”

Although ITI is highly supportive of these measures, there are other groups that are not as on board and that have too voiced their own opinions, including major concerns regarding privacy. Also acknowledged in The Hill coverage, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, among others also submitted a letter of their own to the House, specifically about the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, urging Congress to oppose it. Their concern is that the actual effect of the law would result in abuse by the National Security Agency. They close their letter by saying, “PCNA’s overbroad monitoring, information sharing, and use authorizations effectively increase cyber-surveillance, while the authorization for the use of defensive measures actually undermines cybersecurity.”

According to The Hill’s report, it seems as though the House is expected to pass both bills. However, the groups opposed to the bills raise some compelling concerns that may cause some pause. While most acknowledge that Congress needs to do something to address the issue of cybersecurity, the question is whether these two bills are the answer.

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