House Approves Pro-Privacy CISPA Amendment

    April 17, 2013
    Zach Walton
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UPDATE: The amendment no longer contains pro-privacy language. The language requiring companies to share information only with the DHS was removed before being added to the bill. More on that here.

Original story continues below:

It seemed that CISPA couldn’t get any worse, but its sponsors proved that it could during a rules hearing yesterday. All the of the pro-privacy amendments being proposed were unceremoniously blocked without much of a debate. Now the bill’s sponsors have backtracked by finally supporting a good amendment.

The Hill reports that Rep. Mike McCaul offered up an amendment to CISPA today that has the full backing of CISPA sponsors Reps. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. The amendment would ensure that all cyberthreat information being submitted to the government would first go through an entity created by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, both of which are civilian agencies. The amendment was approved in a 227-192 vote.

In the words of Ruppersberger, “This is a huge concession.” Why? The original text of CISPA allowed companies to share cyberthreat information with any governmental agency, including military agencies like the NSA. Privacy advocates demanded that all identifiable information go through a civilian agency first to reduce the chance of abuse.

So, why did Rogers and Ruppersberger back this amendment when they were adamant about not backing any pro-privacy amendments yesterday? It seems that the veto threat from the White House spooked them into backing more pro-privacy amendments in a bid to get Obama’s signature.

“Rogers and I are just trying to deal with the issue of the White House concerns, realizing that if we pass a bill here and it doesn’t pass the Senate and the president doesn’t sign it, we have no bill,” Ruppersberger said. “This threat is so severe, the cyber threat, that we have to do something.”

The amendment is a great first step, but it doesn’t address all the issues that the White House and privacy advocates have with the bill. CISPA in its current state, even with this new amendment, does not address the issue of private information being removed only after it’s already in the government’s hands. The bill also doesn’t remove the provision that grants total immunity to companies that break the law when handing your information over to the government.

CISPA is on track for a full vote on the House floor tomorrow. We’ll be sure to bring you the final vote at that time.

  • Read carefully

    ooh, yay, score one for privacy all right. wasn’t it the DHS that wanted total information awareness network? so now they get the other half of the puzzle from your flight info, purchase info, etc. etc.
    yep, privacy efforts just got a touchdown…NOT!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

      Yes, it’s still not a total win for privacy. The only win would be if information wasn’t shared at all. That being said – the DHS is a civilian agency and is under far more congressional oversight than the NSA, a military agency. It’s not exactly the best scenario, but it’s better than the previous wording that allowed companies to share data directly with the NSA without any oversight at all.

  • http://wina.in wina

    The arrogance of some politicians is beyond belief!

    The security of the public is critically important but not just from external threats.

    When government agencies, military or not, have too much irrelevant info about the citizens, that too is a threat to the well being of the public.

    Why would the authors of this bill be so arrogant as to not see that kind of threat?

    Why would they not see the merits of stripping persinally identifiable information UNTIL a credible thrat is detected (& identifiable info is requested via court order perhaps)?

    A clear case of Democracy Under Fire!