Despite Public Mistrust of Info Sharing, GOP Chairman Predicts Cybersecurity Passage This Year

WASHINGTON – The leader of the House intelligence panel said last week he is confident that Congress will pass cybersecurity legislation this year, despite public perception of U.S. intelligence overreach driven by intense media scrutiny.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that he is “extremely optimistic” Congress can pass an information-sharing bill for cybersecurity this year.

The Michigan Republican said that he met with the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

“That was one of the most productive meetings I thought we had this year on this issue, and I am back to being extremely optimistic that we are going to get a cyber-sharing bill this year,” Rogers said during an event at the American Enterprise Institute.

Rogers has previously said that the Senate needs to act by August to get the bill to the president’s desk by the end of the year.

“I am very, very encouraged by this meeting yesterday,” he said.

The bill would allow companies to share information about possible cyber threats with each other and the government.

The House passed its version of the bill in April 2014 with two-thirds support. The effort in the Senate was largely hindered by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about the agency’s Internet spying program. The Senate has yet to bring a bill to the floor in this Congress, but lawmakers in the upper chamber are working to move forward.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the panel’s top Republican, announced earlier this year that they have reached a compromise on draft legislation.

Privacy advocates fear that the bill would encourage Internet companies to hand over their users’ private information to the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

Rogers cautioned that public misconception of intelligence agencies after the Snowden leaks has made passing any cybersecurity legislation significantly harder.

“Every day there’s a new article that isn’t exactly right in the newspaper about leaks that are coming out from the NSA,” Rogers said.

A January Associated Press/GfK poll found that more than 60 percent of Americans are increasingly placing personal privacy ahead of being kept safe from terrorists.

Rogers, however, said this is a false dichotomy.

“We’re caught in these series of debates that you have to have either privacy or security. I believe you have to have both, and you can have both,” he said.