In some cases, however, companies would be sharing the IP addresses of suspected attackers, Smocer said. Witnesses in the hearing didn't talk about the privacy implications of sharing information about suspected attackers.
The Intelligence Committee had no privacy or civil liberties groups testify during the CISPA hearing.
Most members of the committee did not raise privacy concerns, but Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, asked witnesses if they would decline to share cyberthreat information if the bill required them to take reasonable steps to delete personal information. None of the four business witnesses said such a requirement would stop them from sharing information.
"Americans are concerned with the amount of personal information that the government is getting already, without adding to," Schiff said.
Businesses would be ready to take reasonable steps to protect privacy, said John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable. "There's every intent and desire to minimize risks and to protect privacy," Engler added. "The greater threat [to privacy] is from the attacker coming in and trying to make something public that shouldn't be."
But Representative C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat and CISPA co-sponsor, questioned whether businesses should be responsible for scrubbing the personal information from the threat information they share. He asked if businesses should send the unscrubbed threat information to government agencies, and then the agencies take steps to anonymize the personal data.
Some businesses have complained that they don't have the resources to minimize the personal information in real time, Ruppersberger said. "Right now, our intelligence community has the capability, in real time, with a tremendous amount of volume, to do this, to minimize," he said. "They do this all the time because of our constitution."
Businesses should be able to anonymize the data they provide, Smocer said. "The provider of the information is in the best position to anonymize it," he said.
Digital rights groups oppose CISPA because it asks U.S. residents to trust that private companies and government agencies will not misuse their personal information, said David Moon, Demand Progress' program director.
"Once again, Congress is attempting to shield businesses from lawsuits when they invade the privacy of their customers; and once again, CISPA sponsors are insisting they won't abuse this power and reveal individual user information," he said in an email. "But nowhere in CISPA can you find these protections clearly outlined. Why won't CISPA's sponsors put basic privacy protections in writing?"