Bill offers industry FOIA protections

A bill scheduled to be introduced in the House this week would give industry

protections under the Freedom of Information Act when sharing proprietary

data on hacker attacks and cybersecurity gaps with the government.

Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), both outspoken proponents

of enhancing critical infrastructure protection, are sponsoring the bill.

The legislation would protect proprietary information belonging to private

companies by preventing the information from being inadvertently disclosed

as a result of cooperative cyberdefense efforts with the government.

Private companies, which own most of the nation's critical infrastructure,

have been reluctant to share proprietary data with the government for fear

it would end up in the hands of competitors. Companies also often refuse

to go public about hacker attacks on their enterprises out of fear that

the news will create public distrust of their services and lead to falling

stock prices.

Dave Morin, a spokesman for Davis, said the bill will be structured

in such a way that it will cover not only real-time and after-the-fact hacker

attacks, but also "preventative" data-sharing by companies that own key

nodes and systems.

"At this point we think neither type of information is being shared,"

Morin said. "We want to make sure information is shared at every level."

FOIA, in effect since 1966, gives citizens access to a wealth of unclassified

and formerly classified government documents.

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