More FOIA barriers considered

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Hill: Block FOIA

Industry and law enforcement officials spoke out Tuesday about one of the

biggest barriers they perceive to sharing information about security and

cyberattacks: the fear that any information turned over to a government

agency is open to the Freedom of Information Act.

The officials spoke before Sen. Jon Kyl's Senate Judiciary Committee's Technology,

Terrorism and Government Information Subcommittee. Kyl (R-Ariz.) is considering

legislation that would help persuade industry to share cyberattack information

with the government by shielding the data from FOIA requests, Kyl's staff

said.

Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) have said they will sponsor

a bill to exempt critical infrastructure-related information.

"Companies worry that if information sharing with government really becomes

a two-way street, FOIA requests for information they have provided to an

agency could prove embarrassing and probably costly," testified Harris Miller,

president of the Information Technology Association of America. "Many in

industry believe that freedom from FOIA concerns is the most formidable

obstacle and that an exemption for this type of information sharing is the

only option."

According to FBI director Louis Freeh, industry information obtained during

an investigation into a cyberattack would be afforded the same level of

protection against FOIA requests and the legal discovery process as any

grand jury testimony. The economic espionage statute also comes into play,

he said.

But at the same time, the FBI would support legislation to amend the act

to include the type of information industry is worried about. "I would certainly

tend to favor it in the limited area of trade secrets, intellectual property,"

Freeh said. "I would think that's a very fair and traditional area to carve

out protections for."

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