Cybersecurity bill passed by House despite privacy concerns

A controversial bill designed to help companies share information on cyber threats with the U.S. government was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday – despite concerns over privacy.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) will allow the U.S. government to rapidly share information on threats with private companies. The bill is backed by lobbying group Technet, representing big technology companies such as IBM, AT&T, Intel, McAfee, Yahoo! and Cisco. But Facebook and Microsoft recently rescinded support and Google has declined to take a position. Opponents include privacy advocates such as ACLU, EFF, and Avaaz.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, pro-CISPA organizations outspent opponents of the bill by 140X (from 2011 through the third quarter of 2012, backers of CISPA spent $605 million on lobbying; anti-CISPA groups spent just $4.3 million).

The bill passed the House last year, but failed to pass the Senate after President Obama threatened a veto. The White House has repeated its threat this week unless further provisions for privacy and civil liberties are added.

Privacy groups have said that the bill includes too little protection for individuals’ private data – and the American Civil Liberties Union has described it as “fatally flawed”. Facebook withdrew its support earlier this year. (There is a detailed look at CISPA on the ACLU website.)

 

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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