The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, otherwise known as CISPA, passed the US House of Representatives Thursday. Passage comes despite opposition from the White House and concerns about online privacy.
Support for the bill was overwhelming and bipartisan. The bill passed 287 – 127. The bill was put forward by Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland and Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan.
CISPA encourages private companies and government agencies to share information about cyber threats in real time in order to thwart cyber attacks, but the White House has concerns with the bill in its current form. Critics are concerned that the bill provides the government with unrestrained access to personal information. Over 30,000 websites teamed up to protest the passage of CIPSA.
Rogers bucked the criticism that the bill extends excessive surveillance powers to the federal government. He asserted that he has yet to see a single US company oppose the bill.
“It does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector,” he said.
Industry giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Mozilla have all thrown their weight against passage of the CISPA cybersecurity act.
Several representatives used the Boston Marathon bombing as justification for expanding federal protections.
“In the case of Boston, they were real bombs,” Republican Representative Mike McCaul of Texas said on the House floor. “In this case they’re digital bombs. These bombs are on their way. That’s why this legislation is so urgent. For if we don’t and those digital bombs land and attack the United States, and Congress failed to act, then Congress has that on his hands.”
Some representatives did choose to speak out in opposition, such as Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California:
The bill stands an unlikely chance of becoming law. It must now pass a Democratic-controlled Senate and a White House that has threatened a veto.
“Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable – and not granted immunity – for failing to safeguard personal information adequately,” the White House previously said in a statement. “Moreover, the administration is confident that such measures can be crafted in a way that is not overly onerous or cost prohibitive on the businesses sending the information.”
In February President Barack Obama signed an executive order urging the administration to begin working towards improving cybersecurity protections until Congress can pass a bill. As far as the White House is concerned, CISPA is not that bill.