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NSA nominee backs protection for companies in any cyber law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's nominee to head the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command said on Tuesday liability protection for corporations that share information with intelligence agencies is crucial in any new U.S. cybersecurity legislation.

"My sense is it's a critical element in any legislation," the nominee, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, said at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I believe to be successful, we ultimately have to provide the corporate partners that we would share information with some level of liability protection," he said.

Rogers said companies would be "much less inclined" to share information with the intelligence community without blanket liability protection.

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the panel is very close to agreement on new cyber legislation.

However, he said one sticking point is the issue of how to provide immunity and liability protection for companies.

The Obama administration, lawmakers and the private sector have been negotiating how the government and industry should protect against the growing threat of cyber attacks.

However, the conversation has sputtered amid disagreements about liability and privacy protections, the creation of new industry standards and other critical elements.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott and Diane Craft)