U.S. cyber bill would shift power away from spy agency

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Reuters — A bill proposed in Congress on Wednesday would require the U.S. National Security Agency to inform representatives of other government agencies about security holes it finds in software like the one that allowed last week’s “ransomware” attacks.

Under former President Barack Obama, the government created a similar inter-agency review, but it was not required by law and was administered by the NSA itself. The new bill would mandate a review when a government agency discovers a security hole in a computer product and does not want to alert the manufacturer because it hopes to use the flaw to spy on rivals. It also calls for the review process to be chaired by the defense-oriented Department of Homeland Security rather than the NSA, which spends 90 percent of its budget on offensive capabilities and spying.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced the legislation in the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Striking the balance between U.S. national security and general cyber security is critical, but it’s not easy,” said Senator Schatz in a statement. “This bill strikes that balance.”

Tech companies have long criticized the practice of withholding information about software flaws so they can be used by government intelligence agencies for attacks.

Hackers attacked 200,000 in more than 150 countries last week using a Microsoft Windows software vulnerability that had been developed by the NSA and later leaked online.


The remainder of this article is available in its entirety at Reuters


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