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Businesses get encouragement to share cybercrime information under bill backed by Senate committee

| Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 7:12 p.m.

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill on Tuesday to encourage companies to exchange information with the government on hacking attempts and cybersecurity threats, officials said.

Despite concerns by some that the measure does not do enough to protect privacy, the committee voted 12-3 to advance the measure authored by its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, their offices said.

Experts see the bill as the best chance for Congress to pass legislation to encourage better cooperation between the government and private companies to boost the cyber defenses of critical industries.

Lawmakers have been considering for months legislation to help private companies better communicate about security breaches and cyber threats. However, comprehensive cyber bills have been delayed by spats over liability and concerns about privacy, especially since the leak of information about government surveillance programs by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The Senate bill must be approved by the full Senate and reconciled with similar legislation that passed the House of Representatives in April.

However, there are signs that the measure has bipartisan support in the House. The Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee issued a statement on Tuesday backing the measure and urging the full Senate to vote quickly.

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