GOP returns fire on cybersecurity legislation battle in US Senate

The SECURE IT Act, the Republicans answer to the Democratic-backed Cybersecurity Act, takes a less regulatory approach to strengthening US cyberscurity and emphasizes information sharing and incentives to move private industry to action.

But privacy advocates have been critical of the lack of privacy safeguards in the legislation.

To address these concerns, Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republican sponsors have tightened the definition of “cyber threat information” to provide stronger protections for consumers and clarified that the federal government does not have authority to use or retain cyber threat information for reasons other than those specified in the bill. The proposal also adds more oversight for protection of privacy and civil liberties.

But the privacy advocates were not impressed. Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Hill newspaper that the changes are only "around the edges" and "don't get at the central problems in the bill." She expressed concern that the bill would allow the National Security Agency and the US military to collect information on Americans’ internet use, while not requiring companies to take out personally identifiable information from the data that they turn over to the government.

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