Controversial cyber security bill advances in Senate

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A long-delayed bill that would make it easier for corporations to share information about cyber attacks with each other or the government without fear of lawsuits advanced in the U.S. Senate with strong support from members of both parties on Thursday.

Dozens of industry and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, back the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), saying it would help encourage companies and the government to share information that might help thwart high-profile cyber attacks.

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Controversial cyber security bill advances in Senate
Joel Kjellgren, Data Center Manager walks in one of the server rooms at the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Signage stands outside the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Facebook Inc. flag flies next to a U.S. flag outside the company's Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Signage made up of individual faces is displayed inside the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The silhouette of an employee is seen standing in front of a cooling system that pulls air in from outside at the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee puts in a filter that protects against pollen, bugs, and dust from the outside air that is pulled in at the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee fixes part of a web server inside the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Joel Kjellgren, Data Center Manager opens a server in one of server rooms at the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken with a fisheye lens shows a man walks past a big logo created from pictures of Facebook users worldwide in the company's Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands of servers are pictured at the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken with a fisheye lens shows the Evaporator Room of the first server rooms in the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
The Relief Room of the first server rooms is pictured in the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees work at the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Signage is reflected in a window at the Facebook Inc. Prineville Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, U.S., on Monday, April 28, 2014. The Facebook Prineville Data Center features leading energy-efficient technology, including features such as rainwater reclamation, a solar energy installation for providing electricity to the office areas and reuse of heat created by the servers to heat office space. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Joel Kjellgren, Data Center Manager shows a server in one of server rooms at the new Facebook Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Luleaa, Swedish Lapland. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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But many privacy activists and a few lawmakers, including Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, vehemently oppose it. Several big tech companies also have come out against the measure, arguing that it fails to protect users' privacy and does too little to prevent cyber attacks.

"The bill would grant legal immunity to companies who in sharing information actually violate your privacy," Paul said in the Senate shortly after the procedural vote of 83 to 14, well above the 60 "yes" votes needed to move ahead.

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The Senate began debating amendments to the measure, which is on track to pass next week.

The House of Representatives passed its version of CISA in April with strong support from Republicans and Democrats.

Any version of CISA passed by the Senate would have to be reconciled with the House bill before it could be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

A source close to the White House said the administration would applaud CISA's passage and push for revisions as it was being reconciled with the House bill.

Those would enhance the privacy protections in the Senate bill and make clear that the National Security Agency could not get information directly from companies and also reduce the major liability exemptions for over-sharing contained in the House bill, the source said.

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