For the second time in a year, the House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) to help companies and the government share information on cyber threats, despite lingering concerns about the amount of protection the bill offers for private information.
Very similar legislation was passed last year in the House but stalled in the Senate after President Barack Obama threatened to veto it over privacy concerns.
CISPA is meant to let Internet companies share information with the government for cybersecurity purposes. A company such as Facebook or Twitter may have information that the government wants, such as when a user logged in or there their location at a certain date and time. CISPA would facilitate sharing that data, but many believe it throws privacy protections out the window in the process. Critics say it amounts to the government standing in for private companies and doing their surveillance for them.
Supporters of CISPA argue that they have amended the bill to address privacy concerns. Those adverse say the legislation hasn't addressed many of the core privacy complaints.
U.S. authorities have recently heightened the exposure to Internet hacks and theft of digital data to the list of top threats to national security. Although thousands of companies have long been losing data to hackers in China and elsewhere, the number of parties publicly admitting such loss has been growing. The bill's supporters say a new law is needed to let the government share threat information with entities that don't have security clearances.
Backers include IBM, Verizon, Comcast, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and TechNet, which represents big technology companies such as Google Inc, Apple Inc, Yahoo! Inc and Cisco Systems Inc. Reddit co-founder has been quite vocal in his opposition of CISPA..
Even if CISPA were to also pass the Senate, however, it's unlikely to be approved by President Obama, especially in light of the statement issued by The White House this week that the bill, as it is written now, would almost certainly be vetoed. "Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable — and not granted immunity — for failing to safeguard personal information adequately," the statement said, in part.