House Passes CISPA, Controversial Cybersecurity Bill Moves To Senate

IT Management

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During a vote in the House today, a majority of representatives voted in favor of passing CISPA for the second year in a row. Now the bill heads to the Senate where it will either live or die. Free Internet advocates and privacy proponents would much prefer the latter.

To recap, CISPA is a proposed bill that aims to boost the government's ability to respond to cyber threats and cyber attacks by sharing private customer information between itself and companies. Its opponents claim the bill is a massive invasion of privacy that serves no use in combatting cyberattacks, but rather will be used to spy on American citizens by granting immunity to those companies that share information.

With CISPA's passage in the House, the EFF vows to take its fight to the Senate:

"This bill undermines the privacy of millions of Internet users,” said Rainey Reitman, EFF Activism Director. “Hundreds of thousands of Internet users opposed this bill, joining the White House and Internet security experts in voicing concerns about the civil liberties ramifications of CISPA. We’re committed to taking this fight to the Senate and fighting to ensure no law which would be so detrimental to online privacy is passed on our watch.”

If history repeats itself, the EFF won't have much of a fight in the Senate. CISPA died in the Senate last year as its members argued over its own law - the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. It was a marked improvement over CISPA, but it did have its own issues. The bill died after it failed a Senate floor vote and CISPA was never taken up.

For this year, the Senate will be debating the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013. Like CSA, it's a bit better than CISPA, but its lack of bipartisan sponsorship doesn't bode well. It also doesn't help that the bill still hasn't even been picked up by its respective committee yet.

So, what happens if CISPA somehow makes its way through the Senate? It has to get signed into law by the president, and his administration just recently threatened to veto CISPA if it makes it to his desk. The administration suggested a number of common sense additions to CISPA that would make it far more pro-privacy, but the House ignored those suggestions. Now its up to the Senate to decide if it will actually listen to the thousands of people who are against CISPA.