According to a SiliconValley.com report, the U.S. House of Representatives will take up a revised version of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) at the end of April. The revisions to the bill should address concerns about privacy, according to its sponsors, but details on what has been changed in the language are unknown at this time.
The bill lets government agencies and corporations share information about hacking attacks on U.S. networks, and copyright infringement activities among users. The bill is supported by a number of large tech companies such as Microsoft and Facebook - mainly because they get immunity from lawsuits if they are sharing information that they believe in good faith is related to a serious security threat.
Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-Maryland) are the lead sponsors on the bill which expands the scope of a Pentagon pilot program for sharing classified information from only defense contractors and their Internet providers to a broader segment of the private sector. Rogers and Ruppersberger are the top two members on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The bill has 105 co-sponsors already and is likely to pass. Even Daryl Issa, who opposes SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, supports this legislation.
But advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are gravely concerned that CISPA's language is so vague that it could lead to abuse. They believe the bill - if it becomes law - could be used to monitor online communications without restriction, filter content from sites like WikiLeaks, and shut down access to online services.
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he has not seen the proposed amendments lawmakers are talking about, and therefore could not say if the changes would allay the EFF's concerns.
In a news conference earlier this week, Rogers and Ruppersberger said their bill had no such intent and that they would clarify the language of the bill so that private companies would give information about threats only to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"Malicious code will be caught before it gets into networks. That's where we think we make the biggest bang for the buck," Rogers said.
We will continue to follow the progress of this bill and let you know what changes lawmakers have made as information becomes available.