CISPA Is Kind Of Dead, But Not Really

    April 25, 2013

Last week, a cry rang out from privacy advocates everywhere as the House overwhelmingly passed CISPA. Those same advocates soon gathered up their forces for a fight in the Senate, but it looks like the Senate got to killing CISPA before they could.

US News reports that the Senate has decided not to take up CISPA. In short, CISPA is dead. The bill that would have given companies full legal immunity when sharing your personal information with the government will have its remains scattered on the winds of history yet again.

It seems that CISPA’s death can be largely attributed to two factors. For one, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, came out against CISPA saying it lacked privacy protections. Rockefeller holds considerable sway in the Senate, and his committee would have had a lot of say over CISPA. Secondly, President Obama’s veto threat most likely played a major role in the Senate’s rejection of CISPA.

We can relax now that CISPA is dead, right? Unfortunately, the answer is a little unclear at this point. An unnamed representative on Rockefeller’s committee says that “issues and key provisions” of CISPA will be divvied up and made into separate bills. In other words, CISPA will be broken up into smaller, separate bills in the Senate. The problem with this approach is that some of the less vile, but still damaging, provisions of CISPA can make it through as they won’t be attached to the really bad stuff.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the Senate will craft a handful of bills that narrowly target the areas not covered by President Obama’s cybersecurity executive order without sacrificing civil liberties. It would certainly be nice, but the Senate’s past attempts at writing cybersecurity legislation certainly don’t inspire confidence.

Either way, we won’t be seeing any cybersecurity legislation out of the Senate for a while. The unnamed representative says the Senate currently has its hands full with a number of other bills that take priority over cybersecurity, including the controversial Marketplace Fairness Act.