White House threatens CISPA veto, again

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White House threatens CISPA veto, again
White House threatens CISPA veto, again

The White House on Tuesday issued a fresh veto threat (PDF) of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, commonly known as CISPA.

Despite the proposed bill receiving bipartisan support last week from the House Intelligence Committee, a "statement of administration policy" from the White House expressed continued reservations over the measure's privacy protections. Last year, when an earlier version of CISPA earned House approval (but was never taken up by the Senate), the Obama administration announced (PDF) similar concerns.

This year's version, which cleared the House Intelligence Committee last week, features a number of revisions from when the legislation was first re-introduced, but it lacks some of the strongest privacy amendments that advocates had hoped would make it through. 

"The amendments that passed only chipped away at the edges of CISPA, without addressing the core civil liberties concerns," said a blog post last week from the digital watchdog group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Critics want CISPA to include limited liability protection for companies sharing intelligence with the government and requirements that personal information be eliminated from threat data prior to being shared.

While the White House said it is pleased the current version of the law contains an amendment that prevents the government from using any information that private-sector companies share with it for national security purposes, the proposal needs more work.

"The administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cyber security data to the government or other private sector entities," the statement said. "Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable – and not granted immunity – for failing to safeguard personal information adequately. The administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to find a workable solution to this challenge."

Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., are the sponsors of CISPA, which has the support of a number of large companies, including IBM. The two congressmen believe the threat posed by countries like China and Iran make legislation that codifies information sharing essential.

CISPA is next scheduled for a full House vote.


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