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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed the "Protecting Cyber Networks Act," which will make it easier for private companies to share cybersecurity threats with each other and the government without fearing lawsuits.
This represents a major step for Congress, as several prior bills addressing the issue have failed.
According to Reuters, 307 members of the House voted in favor of the legislation, while 116 opposed the measure.
"At some point, we need to stop talking about the next Sony, the next Anthem, the next Target, the next JP Morgan Chase and the next State Department hack, and actually pass a bill that will help ensure that there will be no next cyberattack," said Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
U.S. corporations have pushed Congress to act following several high-profile data breaches, including ones occurring at Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and a cyberthreat involving Sony Pictures Entertainment's release of the movie "The Interview." In the convenience store sector, MAPCO Express Inc. was the target of a data breach in 2013.
Passage of the cybersecurity legislation still must go through two more steps before becoming law. The U.S. Senate must approve the bill later this spring. Since the bill has substantial bipartisan support, most experts believe it will pass in the U.S. Senate without a problem.
Following Senate passage, President Barack Obama must sign the bill into law. The Obama Administration has expressed some concerns about certain details of the bill, but supports its passage, Reuters reported.
The bill is supported by most groups in the public and private sectors as well. The main objectors are privacy advocates who believe passage of the bill will undermine the privacy of individuals.