House to Vote on Controversial CISPA Again

By:  Raven Clabough
04/17/2013
       
House to Vote on Controversial CISPA Again

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA) has been reintroduced and scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this week.

Though the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA) managed to be defeated in Congress last year, it has been reintroduced and scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this week. The authors of the bill, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), introduced a revised version of the bill in February despite opposition from privacy advocates.

The primary purpose of CISPA is to encourage intelligence sharing so as to address potential cyber threats, but CISPA does little to detail what information on cyber threats may be shared. As a result, anything from e-mails to medical records could be shared with intelligence agencies. Harvey Anderson of Mozilla, an opponent to the bill, says CISPA “creates a black hole” through which the government can access any kind of data it wants.

In its current form, CISPA allows Internet and other companies to be exempt of all liability if they open their databases with confidential customer information to the feds and other private-sector firms.

As noted by CNET, CISPA is controversial for a variety of reasons, including that it “overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying ‘notwithstanding any other provision of law,’ including a privacy policy or terms of service agreement, companies may share certain confidential customer information ‘with any other entity, including the federal government.’”

Last year, despite threats of a presidential veto and heavy opposition in the House led by former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Jared Polis, (D-Colo.), CISPA managed to pass in the House of Representatives by a vote of 248 to 168, but did not receive a vote in the Senate as a result of a struggle over a Democratic-backed bill that had privacy problems of its own.

The bill was reintroduced this year as a result of a reported increase of cyber-attacks by Iran and China that has compelled President Obama to call for legislation to stop the attacks.

“Congress must act,” Obama said during his 2013 State of the Union address, “…by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.”

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