CISPA Passes House to a Cacophony of Groans and Cheers

Type threatpost
Reporter Brian Donohue
Modified 2013-04-17T20:03:37


The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed with bipartisan support by a 248-168 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night, despite warnings from privacy experts and a growing public outcry.

CISPA’s chief supporter and co-sponsor, Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, applauded the bill’s passage. “We can’t stand by and do nothing as U.S. companies are hemorrhaging from the cyber looting coming from nation states like China and Russia,” Chairman Rogers said in a press release on his website. “America will be a little safer and our economy better protected from foreign cyber predators with this legislation.”

The bill’s co-sponsor, C.A. ‘Dutch’ Rupperspberger (D-MD) called CISPA’s passage not only bipartisan House floor victory, but “a victory for America.” “Our nation is one step closer to making a real difference protecting our country from a catastrophic cyber attack,” Ruppersberger said.

Despite that, bill’s many opponent’s have called it overly broad, unnecessary, and even dangerous. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) expressed disappointment regarding the bill’s passage “in such flawed form and under such a flawed process.” The CDT worked together with the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to limit CISPA’s scope and amend more narrow definitions into it.

“Hundreds of thousands of Internet users spoke out against the bill…” said the EFF’s activism director, Rainy Reitman. “We will not stand idly by as the basic freedoms to read and speak online without the shadow of government surveillance are endangered by such overbroad legislative proposals.”

Prior to passage, Congress adopted a few amendments to the bill to improve CISPA’s privacy and civil liberty protections. But CDT said that the House moved the bill through passage without addressing concerns raised by privacy advocates and the Obama Administration. As Threatpost reported yesterday, the Administration expressed concern that CISPA granted private firms too free a hand in sharing information about their customer with the government and law enforcement.

The American Civil Liberties was displeased as well, saying that the bill “goes too far for little reason” and expressing concern that “once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back.”

With House passage, the stage is set for the U.S. Senate to battle it out over CISPA. Even with passage there, CISPA might face a veto should reach the Oval Office. The president’s senior advisers said they would recommend that he veto the bill, according to an Obama Administration statement released on Wednesday.