The House of Representatives passed on Thursday a controversial cybersecurity bill that would allow private companies to exchange confidential information with the federal government.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is designed to defend U.S. networks against cyber attack, passed the House 248-162.
The White House threatened to veto the legislation, saying the bill fails to protect privacy and gives a pass to companies that do not secure networks critical to the nation's security.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) dismissed the Administration's privacy concerns on Thursday.
"Listen, the White House believes the government ought to control the Internet, the government ought to set standards and the government ought to take care of everything that's needed for cybersecurity" Boehner said. "They're in a camp all by themselves because whether it's private industry, whether it's other parts of the government, understand that we can't have the government in charge of our Internet."
Under CISPA, private companies could voluntarily share cyber threat information with other companies and the federal government. In turn, the government could then share classified information on cyber threats with private companies. The participation of private companies would be voluntary.
Civil liberty groups have raised concerns. Some contend that the bill gives employers the ability to spy on employees and then share that information with the government in the name of national security.
Industry giants Google, AT&T, and Facebook have expressed support for the bill, which stand to benefit from the increased government oversight.
The Senate has its own cyber security bill sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that would give the administration the power to determine security standards for companies with networks deemed critical to the nation's cyber security. They are expected to take up the legislation next month.