CISPA: House of Representatives Passes Controversial Bill

In a 288 to 127 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA), which encourages businesses to share cyberthreat information with the government. Privacy advocates have been fighting passage of the act, concerned that it allows agencies to conduct warrantless searches of data collected from e-mail and Internet providers. The bill overrides current privacy and wiretap laws.

“CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying ‘notwithstanding any other provision of law,’ including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information ‘with any other entity, including the federal government.’ It would not, however, require them to do so,” reports CNET.

Language of the bill has drawn concern from advocacy groups, including the American Library Association, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Media and Democracy and Reporters Without Borders.

In a letter to Congress last month, 34 such groups voiced their opposition: “Although a carefully-crafted information sharing program that strictly limits the information to be shared and includes robust privacy safeguards could be an effective approach to cybersecurity, CISPA lacks such protections for individual rights. CISPA’s information-sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of e-mails, to any agency in the government.”

In its Myth v. Fact post regarding CISPA, the House Intelligence committee says any claim suggesting that “this legislation creates a wide-ranging government surveillance program” is untrue.

“CISPA now heads to the Senate and could soon end up on President Obama’s desk to potentially sign into law,” reports Business Insider. “Earlier this week senior White House advisers recommended that the president veto the bill, citing concerns that the bill does not adequately prevent sharing of irrelevant personal information.”