From NextGov:

After years of de­bate and man­euv­er­ing, a ma­jor cy­ber­se­cur­ity bill is fi­nally on the fast track to ap­prov­al after law­makers at­tached it to a $1.1 tril­lion gov­ern­ment spend­ing pack­age early Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

While busi­ness groups and na­tion­al se­cur­ity hawks are cheer­ing the news, it’s a ma­jor blow to pri­vacy ad­voc­ates, who fear the meas­ure will fun­nel more of Amer­ic­ans’ per­son­al in­form­a­tion in­to the hands of the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency.

The le­gis­la­tion, now called the Cy­ber­se­cur­ity Act of 2015, would en­cour­age com­pan­ies to share in­form­a­tion about com­puter vir­uses and oth­er cy­ber­se­cur­ity threats with each oth­er and the gov­ern­ment. The bill would shield com­pan­ies from law­suits by their users for giv­ing private in­form­a­tion to the gov­ern­ment as part of the pro­gram.

Sup­port­ers say the le­gis­la­tion is crit­ic­al for en­sur­ing the gov­ern­ment and private in­dustry can work to­geth­er to thwart at­tacks on the na­tion’s com­puter sys­tems. “This cy­ber­bill is a ‘Team Amer­ica’ ap­proach that will sig­ni­fic­antly im­prove ef­forts to fight cy­ber­crim­in­als and bet­ter pro­tect con­sumer data and in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­erty,” Tim Pawlenty, the CEO of the Fin­an­cial Ser­vices Roundtable, one of the many busi­ness groups lob­by­ing for the le­gis­la­tion, said in a state­ment. Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, the top Demo­crat on the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, called the bill “an im­port­ant first step to fight back against dan­ger­ous cy­ber­at­tacks.”

But civil-liber­ties groups warn the latest ver­sion of the meas­ure has been stripped of some of the most sig­ni­fic­ant pri­vacy pro­tec­tions, trans­form­ing it in­to a sur­veil­lance bill.

“In­stead of passing re­forms that would have stopped the An­them…

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