It was revealed in mid-February that CISPA would be back. The dreaded cybersecurity bill is now ready to make its way through Congress, but our elected representatives apparently think that the public doesn't have the right to know what's going to go into it.
The Hill reports that the media and public will not be allowed to watch the House Intelligence Committee's markup on CISPA next week. A spokesperson for the committee says that the secrecy is because the CISPA discussions will include confidential material that must be kept secret.
"Sometimes they'll need to bounce into classified information and go closed for a period of time to talk. In order to keep the flow of the mark-up continuing forward, you can't stop in the middle of an open hearing, move everyone to another location for a portion of it, and then move back."
It's heavily speculated that the committee is shutting out the media and public to keep both in the dark. Sure, the committee says it will release information on amendments offered, and lawmakers can discuss what happened; but it doesn't give us the whole picture.
If you buy into the rhetoric of lawmakers, cybersecurity is incredibly important. If it's so important, why isn't the public invited to add their voice to the ongoing deliberations over what was already a bad bill? Most likely, it's just another excuse to eliminate scrutiny. Unfortunately for the committee, they will only invite more scrutiny on themselves and the bill as it nears a vote in the House.
It will be interesting to see what the White House says about all of this as the anti-CISPA petition on the We the People Web site has reached the necessary 100,000 signatures for an official response. It's been almost a month, however, and there's been no response yet. Here's hoping the White House still retains its CISPA position from last year.