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In the Evening Hours, CISPA Gets Some New Features

Megha Rajagopalan
ProPublica / News Analysis
Published: Saturday 28 April 2012
The House had been set to vote on the bill today but instead passed it last night, 248-168, with some changes.
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Yesterday, we reported on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, and the debate it has inspired about the privacy of your Internet data and security. The underlying bill allows Internet providers, software companies and other private firms to share information about “cyber security” with the federal government — and protects them from legal liability.

The bill’s sponsors touted a handful of amendments they said addressed privacy and civil liberties concerns, but privacy activists say the amendments still don’t go far enough. The House had been set to vote on the bill today but instead passed it last night, 248-168, with some changes:

How “cyber threat” information can be used: Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., proposed an that limits the use of shared cyber threat information to five purposes: protecting cyber security, investigating cyber security crimes, protecting people from death or injury, protecting minors from harm, and protecting U.S. national security.

What kind of information can be shared: An amendment by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., specifies the kind of information that can be shared, saying it must be “directly pertaining to” a threat, vulnerability, attack or unauthorized access. It also makes clear that violating a website’s terms of service — that’s the form on which you check “agree” when registering at a site like Facebook or Gmail — doesn’t constitute a cyber threat.

A second lookAn amendment proposed by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., states that five years after the bill is enacted, Congress would have to re-examine and reauthorize it, providing an opportunity to address changes in technology or unintended consequences. 

Addressing civil liberties: An amendment proposed by Mulvaney and Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., says that in sharing information, the federal government should take “reasonable efforts” to limit the impact on privacy and civil liberties, consistent with the need to protect cyber threats.

Personal records: Put forth by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., the amendment says the government can’t make use of educational, medical, firearms or tax return records that it receives from private companies through CISPA.

Why privacy activists are unhappy

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other pro-privacy groups continue to argue that the bill would enable commercial interests and intelligence agencies to misuse personal information under the guise of preventing cybercrimes. The pro-privacy groups say the amendments represent an improvement but don’t offer sufficient safeguards. CISPA allows private companies to hand information directly to military and intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency. Privacy activists backed amendments by Democrats to give the Department of Homeland Security authority to devise privacy protections. None made it to the floor in the GOP-controlled House.

Under the amended bill, shared information can be used for the protection of national security, not just cyber security. Some opponents say this is too broad and fear it would be easy for the government to justify collecting private data even when unrelated to hacking or Internet security.

What’s next

CISPA faces a hard road in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it must duke it out with cyber security bills backed by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The White House said this week that advisers would recommend that President Obama veto CISPA if it ever reaches his desk.

ABOUT Megha Rajagopalan

Megha Rajagopalan reports on digital privacy, security and freedom. She was a 2011 Fulbright fellow in Beijing where she conducted research on the Chinese news media, and was previously a research fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute in Washington, D.C. She has reported from China, Burma and North Korea, among other places, and has contributed to TIME Asia, The Wall Street Journal,, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor and other publications. She speaks Mandarin Chinese.

@ Thesmart: Anarchy is the

@ Thesmart: Anarchy is the ultimate level of smaller gov't so embraced by conservatives. It is the ultimate on "individual rights" also embraced by conservatives. Funny how they want us to go in that direction but not get there. Methinks they are interested in "smaller gov't" confined to the hands of the 1% and any and all lame goods they want to shove down our throats.

Paul is an illusion as well. His history does not speak well for the future of many in this country, especially Blacks. He does not embrace all of America, not by a long shot.

the problem with laws

the problem with laws congress passes any more the bulk of it is up to the agency in charge on how they interprut the law. no laws should ever be passed unless congress has the last say in how and what they mean. Our representation in congress means nothing any more because all the power is in the hands of the agencies .
BTW PRICELESS I agree with you "Ron Paul" wants rule of law not tyrany by the majority which is almost anarchy. And there we be a new party in 2016 maybe even 2014

priceless22, even if we had a

priceless22, even if we had a new party it would soon be infiltrated and controlled.

If Ron Paul was elected, the "Powers That Be" would find it necessary to have him killed. They will not allow an end to their profitable wars.

It is not Ron Paul that needs

It is not Ron Paul that needs to survive it is his ideas and as a person you can help.

I tell you, even though I

I tell you, even though I consider myself a conservative, I would like to kick MOST of the Republicans out of office.

How DARE they agree to give ANY information that is typed on the internet to the US Gov't!!!

The Republicans and the Democrats have done so much damage to the Constitutional rights of EVERY citizen!

The NDAA, the Patriot Act and now this! All pushed by Republicans. All used to take away MANY of our Constitutional rights.

And they wonder WHY I won't give them my money! Either party!

We need a New Party. Possibly call it the Patriot Party! People would leave these other two parties in droves.... if we had a good new party that went by the Constitution, instead of the pockets of the elected!! Hmmm! Oh We already HAVE a party or two like that...and Ron Paul stands by the Constitution. He is the person who should be President. And NO... I am not one of those young pushy punks that like him.... that want anarchy!

Power and Greed and Lust rule this nation now. The founding fathers who gave up their property, their health, their wealth, and their lives, must be rolling over in their graves right now.

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