The Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation Tuesday aimed at helping companies and the government thwart hackers.
But the bill faces opposition from privacy groups, who warn that it could give the National Security Agency access to even more personal information of Americans.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, advanced in a 12-3 vote, would make it easier for businesses and the government to share information with each other about cyberattacks. Business groups argue that legal barriers are preventing them from getting the information they need to stop hackers.
"Every week, we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. "This bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyberattacks."
The legislation includes provisions aimed at protecting privacy, such as requiring that companies that share information first strip out personally identifiable data (such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers) of known Americans.
But the privacy groups are still worried that the legislation could encourage a company such as Google to turn over vast batches of emails or other private data to the government. The information would go first to the Homeland Security Department, but could then be shared with the NSA or other intelligence agencies.