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White House threatens veto of House cybersecurity bill

By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a House of Representatives bill aimed at improving U.S. cybersecurity, citing among other things concerns about privacy protections.

In a repeat of last year's events, the Obama administration issued a new veto threat on the cybersecurity bill co-authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, saying it needed to better protect private information and gave too much liability protection to companies.

"The Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the president, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," the statement of administration policy said on Tuesday.

The House is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

To try to gain support of the White House and in an effort to appease concerns of civil liberties groups, Intelligence Committee leaders made some changes to the wording of the bill, which is very similar to a bill passed by the House in 2012 that focused on helping companies and the U.S. government share information on cyber threats.

Changes this year include a provision preventing companies from using information they receive for anything but cybersecurity purposes. It also includes added roles for privacy and civil liberties oversight.

"The Committee adopted several amendments to (the bill) in a good faith effort to incorporate some of the administration's important substantive concerns. However (it) ... still does not address these fundamental priorities adequately," said Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman.

In 2012, legislation authored by Rogers and Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger passed the House but died in the Democratic-controlled Senate after President Barack Obama similarly threatened to veto it.

The White House has sought a more comprehensive piece of legislation that would also set minimum security standards for critical companies.

Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday called the veto threat "completely justified" and said it did not bode well for the bill's future in the Senate.

Rogers' office did not immediately comment.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh and Deborah Charles; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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