After fielding complaints by civil liberties groups, free market activists, and congressional Democrats, sponsors of a controversial cybersecurity information-sharing bill proposed changes on Tuesday that say say will go a long way to addressing the concerns.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, sponsored by House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., would give companies incentives to share cyberthreat information with the government, while freeing up the government to provide classified information to businesses.
Critics said the bill's language was too broad, and could allow government agencies to monitor Americans' communications. On Tuesday Rogers and Ruppersberger moved to quell those concerns, announcing support for changes that would limit how the government can use the information it gathers; and allow agencies to remove personally identifiable information.
The changes, Rogers told reporters on Tuesday, were not about winning votes, which he said he has plenty of, but making sure people were comfortable with the bill.
"We wanted to make sure we got the privacy and the civil liberties parts of this bill correct," he said.
A leading critic of the bill, the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the changes fall short of making sure the information is not used by defense and intelligence agencies.
Although that's an issue the two sides are unlikely to agree on (Rogers has said it would be a "horrible mistake" to deny the information to defense officials), CDT did say based on the changes and the sponsors' willingness to reach out, the group will not oppose the bill moving forward on Thursday, and instead focus on amendments and the debate in the Senate.
"The Committee listened to our concerns and has made important privacy improvements and we applaud the Committee for doing so," CDT said in a statement.
Democrats are preparing a string of amendments, including one by Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., which also aims to limit the way information is used.
The White House has also signaled it opposes any bill that does not include more authority for the government to oversee some private networks, but Rogers said such proposals are not in his committee's jurisdiction.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider CISPA on Wednesday in preparation for debate in the full House as soon as Thursday.