While many Americans were pre-occupied by the Boston Marathon bombings, the U.S. House passed a controversial bill last Thursday, H.R. 624, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The original bill, H.R. 3523, was defeated in the Senate in the 112th Congress. Senators and the president alike expressed concerns that the bill did not sufficiently secure Fourth Amendment protections.
The White House said in a statement, “The sharing of information must be conducted in a manner that preserves Americans’ privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace. Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats.”
The bill, originally introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, was reintroduced Feb. 13, 2013 by the same. In a 288-127 vote, it was passed by the House April 18.
The bill summary reads, “Each day, the U.S. government and private American companies are targeted by individual hackers and state-sponsored entities, which seek to gain access to sensitive national security and infrastructure information and valuable research and development from American companies. When hackers steal trade secrets from American companies, those companies are placed at a disadvantage in the global market. According to HPSCI, ‘China, in particular, is engaged in an extensive, day-in, day-out effort to pillage American intellectual property.’ Although it is difficult to quantify, estimates of loss from cyber economic espionage range up to $400 billion per year.”
HPSCI is the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, currently chaired by Rogers.
The ACLU admonished in a statement, “…the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, CISPA would create a loophole in all existing privacy laws, allowing companies to share Internet users’ data with the National Security Agency, part of the Department of Defense, and the biggest spy agency in the world — without any legal oversight.”
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.), proposed an amendment to H.R. 624 that would prevent employers from demanding social media passwords from employees, such as Facebook.
Perlmutter explained, “This is a simple amendment that really does two things. It helps the individual protect his right to privacy and doesn’t allow the employer to impersonate that particular employee when other people are interacting with that person across social media platforms. So for two reasons, one that individual’s right to privacy shouldn’t be breached just because he’s seeking employment and two, the employer shouldn’t be in a position to impersonate that individual who is seeking a job.”
The amendment to the bill was blocked.
Anonymous has announced an Internet blackout in protest of CISPA.
On Anon Insiders Anonymous said, “We are going dark on Monday, April 22 at 6 a.m. GMT for 24 hours to protest your illogical and terrorizing bill against the Internet itself. Even with the whole Internet crying out to stop this bill, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to do so blinded by lobbyist’s money and c– in your eyes. So we will take action ourselves and open your eyes. Every popular/mainstream websites will be black until you, Mr. Dron[e] Obama promise us to use your veto power to stop this bill at Senate. Take this as a protest or a warning, as you wish. One thing is for certain, neither you or anyone else in this world can control the Internet, so don’t even try.”
There has been no suggestion of an attack. It remains to be seen which organizations participate in the blackout.