CISPA bill headed to US House floor sans privacy protections

CISPA bill is back in the form of CISPA 2.0
Obama likes CISPA less than getting in trouble for Jay Z's trip to Cuba

The CISPA cybersecurity bill that calls for the sharing of internet data between the U.S. government and technology companies passed the U.S. House Intelligence Committee today.

However, its 18 to 2 approval happened without the privacy protections that were being sought by multiple petitions.

The fear is that without such protections the broad powers of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would give the federal government undue access to personal information of American citizens.

That was the reason the House-approved first version of CISPA never made it to a vote in the Senate last year, making this new controversial cybersecurity bill CISPA 2.0.

Those in favor...

CISPA authors House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) are confident that the bill would once again pass the House.

"What we came up with, we think, is the right approach," said Rogers to The Hill.

"It is the one bill out of everything you've seen on both sides of this great institution of the United States Congress that protects a free and open Internet and allows people to share cyber threat information to protect their clients, their business, their [personally identifiable information]."

The intention is to remove legal obstacles in the way of allowing technology companies to share data with the U.S. government.

...And those opposed

While CISPA's intention sounds all well and good, this closed-door voting session failed to adopt four privacy amendments, three of which were proposed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

"[It] would have strengthened privacy protections, ensured that consumers can hold companies accountable for misuse of their private information, and required that companies report cyber threat information directly to civilian agencies," said Schakowsky in a statement on her website.

She said that her amendments would have also maintained the long standing tradition that the military doesn't operate on U.S. soil against American citizens.

"The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) must balance cybersecurity concerns with measures that protect the privacy and civil liberties that Americans deserve."

"I voted against CISPA because I believe that balance hasn't been achieved in the current bill."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), her co-sponsor on the fourth amendment, was the only other U.S. House Intelligence Committee member to vote against this version of CISPA today.

Also denied for a White House tour

The good news for opponents of CISPA is that the President in could veto the bill in its current form.

"We continue to believe that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in a statement to the LA Times.

"But they must include privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections."

"We believe the adopted committee amendments reflect a good-faith effort to incorporate some of the Administration's important substantive concerns, but we do not believe these changes have addressed some outstanding fundamental priorities."

Since the House approved of the first version of CISPA 248 to 168 last year, it is likely to repeat the same party-lines vote in 2013.

The true test for this controversial cybersecurity bill will come when and if it reaches the Senate, and if it ultimately lands on President Obama's desk at The White House.

Matt Swider