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Cyber security information sharing protections included in omnibus bill

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Companies that voluntarily share information about data breaches with the federal government will receive greater protection against privacy suits under a provision in the omnibus spending bill passed by both houses of Congress on Friday.

Both houses had earlier passed their own versions of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. Businesses had long sought protection against lawsuits related to information sharing, and a provision providing some protection was included in the budget bill.

Insurers, which had supported the information sharing provision, hailed the passage of the omnibus bill.

“As crime and even warfare increasingly move to the digital realm, communication is vital to preventing cyber attacks and limiting the damage hackers can inflict,” Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos.' Washington office, said in a statement.

The provision “will create a system where companies can safely report attacks, while respecting individual consumer privacy, which will help improve our national security and the ability for companies to defend themselves,” he said.