House Passes Controversial Cyber Security Bill for Second Time

Privacy hawks vow to fight bill as it heads to Senate

Despite a veto threat by President Obama and a vigorous campaign by privacy hawks, the House of Representatives easily passed a controversial cyber security bill that would make it easier for companies and the government to share threat information.

The vote was 288-127 in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act known as Cispa, which never quite got the bad name that SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) did more than a year ago. Democrats were split on the measure with 92 voting for the bill.

Cispa's opponents, including the ACLU, the Internet Defense League and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ran a vigorous online and Twitter campaign, warning that the bill fell short in protecting consumers' privacy. But even the president's veto threat was not enough to kill the bill.

Sponsored by House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), Cispa enjoyed broad support from some big tech companies, such as IBM, Google and Microsoft.

While Cispa cleared the House, its fate in the Senate may be predetermined. The bill passed Thursday was virtually the same bill that passed the House last year, only to get stalled in the upper chamber. There's no reason to think it will be any different this year.

As soon as the House voted, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Cispa needed some work, but that cyber security should remain a top priority. "Today's action in the House is important, even if Cispa's privacy protections are insufficient. We need action on all the elements that will strengthen our cyber security, not just one, and that's what the Senate will achieve," Rockefeller said in a statement. "There is too much at stake, for economic and national security, for Congress to fail to act."

Opponents are not giving up. Calling the House vote "shameful," the  Electronic Frontier Foundation immediately issued a statement and vowed to continue to fight for changes in the bill to balance the need for cyber security with the privacy rights of consumers. 

"Cispa is a poorly drafted bill that would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law," EFF senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement. "While we agree that our nation needs to address pressing Internet security issues, this bill sacrifices online privacy while failing to take common-sense steps to improve security."


Publish date: April 18, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT