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House passes cybersecurity bill despite veto threat over privacy

anti-sopa cispa protests.jpg

Jan. 18, 2012: A blackout landing page is displayed on a laptop computer screen to protest the SOPA legislation -- which some argue is returning under a new name. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The House, despite White House objections, has passed a cybersecurity bill aimed at helping stop electronic attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure and companies.

The vote was 248-168 on Thursday. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, intends to defend U.S. industries and corporate networks against the threat of cyberattacks.

SUMMARY

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT? The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA, or HR 3523) is intended to regulate the flow of information online and make it easier for the government to communicate with companies in the event of a cyber threat.

But some industry groups say the wording is far too vague -- and a real threat to online privacy.

Under CISPA, private companies could voluntarily share information with other companies and the federal government regarding cyber threats.

But critics, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), say it encroaches on civil liberties by allowing internet companies to share information about what their customers do online with the IRS, Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

"Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive," the OMB said in an argument against the bill. "Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation's core critical infrastructure from cyber threats."

The White House has threatened a veto, saying the bill fails to protect Americans' privacy. 

The administration instead supports a bill in the Senate written by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), which would give the Department of Homeland Security authority to set new cybersecurity standards.

The Senate bill remains stalled, facing opposition from some senior Republicans.

The Associated Press and Newscore contributed to this report.