White House threatens cybersecurity veto
April 16th, 2013
06:10 PM ET

White House threatens cybersecurity veto

By Pam Benson

The White House is threatening to veto a House cybersecurity bill unless changes are made to further safeguard privacy and civil liberties, and limit private-sector liability protections.

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee approved and sent to the full House proposed legislation that would enhance data sharing between the government and private industry to help protect computer networks from cyber attacks.

The committee amended the bill after consulting with the White House during its drafting, but the Obama administration is still not satisfied with some of its provisions.

"The administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the president, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto" it, the White House budget office said in a statement on Tuesday.

In particular, the administration wants to require private companies to "take reasonable steps" to remove personal data not relevant to a cyber threat when they share information with the government.

As it stands now, the bill only mandates the government take steps to minimize the collection and retention of personal information such as addresses and e-mail.

The White House also wants the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate information-sharing from industry to government, making clear that a civilian agency would be in charge of the process.

Another point of contention is the extent of liability protection provided to private industry.

The White House supports the efforts to remove legal barriers that could inhibit information sharing by companies, but the OMB statement said, "the law should not immunize a failure to take reasonable measures, such as the sharing of information, to prevent harm when and if the entity knows that such inaction will cause damage or otherwise injure or endanger other entities or individuals."

The full House is expected to debate and vote on the measure this week.

Two Democratic representatives who voted against the committee bill, Adam Schiff of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, plan to introduce amendments that could satisfy the administration's concerns.

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