The House cybersecurity bill that received strong criticism from the White House, privacy groups and the Internet is going to be re-introduced on Wednesday according to The Hill. House Intelligence Committee leaders Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) announced earlier this week that they would re-introduce their Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and hold a public hearing next week to analyze the current state of cyber threat information sharing between the U.S. government and various industries next week.
While sponsors of CISPA may be keen to bring it back to the House, privacy advocates say that they also plan to mount a strong campaign of opposition to the bill because no changes have been made to express legal rights under the constitution, privacy concerns, and due process for internet users.
"The Internet activists who vociferously opposed CISPA last year are certainly primed to oppose the same bill again this year," said Greg Nojeim, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's project on freedom, security and technology. "It's hard to understand why members would want to start with the same legislation that raised such uproar."
The concern among most that oppose CISPA is that it allows businesses (who would be immune to legal action) to share data with government agencies like the NSA and Homeland Security in the name of fighting cyber terrorists. Privacy advocates are particularly worried that intelligence agencies and law enforcement would be emboldened to use data from people's electronic communications for non-cybersecurity purposes. The bill would likely cover any kind of activity you could imagine on the Internet - from information on Facebook activity, email, and instant messaging - to what a particular person is doing on a console game or in a virtual world such as World of Warcraft.
The White House has not said what it plans to do about the bill this time around - and there has been talk of the President doing his own thing related to cybersecurity via an executive order. White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Hill that the administration's views about the importance of including adequate privacy protections in cybersecurity legislation has not changed.
"We do not issue [statements of administration policy] until bills are ready for the floor, so as not to prejudge the legislative process," Hayden said in a statement.
"Our belief continues to be that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include proper privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the appropriate roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections."
Both Rogers and Ruppersberger say that their staff are in talks with the Administration about the bill. They hope they can gain the support of the President and avoid a veto.
"We're working on some things … working with the White House to make sure that hopefully they can be more supportive of our bill than they were the last time," Ruppersberger said earlier this week.
Privacy advocates predict that the White House will come out in opposition of CISPA again this year.
"Given that the bill hasn't changed, we would expect the White House to react the same [way] it did as the bill emerged from the House last year," Nojeim said. "They issued a veto threat, and with nothing changed [in the bill], one would expect the position will be the same."
"I think it's a different ball game this time," said Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel in the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington office. "I feel emboldened after what happened in the Senate last fall and [with] the veto threat."
"With that [Senate] alternative out there, I don't think this sort of broad and unaccountable approach to information sharing [legislation] is going to go anywhere," she added, noting that the bill received 168 'no' votes last year.
Those companies that supported the bill the last time it was introduced will likely support it this time too:
"We strongly support CISPA. We did before and we continue to," said Nilmini Rubin, director of government relations at the Information Technology Industry Council, which counts Google and IBM as members. "It's still needed. We hope that as people become more educated about cybersecurity, they understand why information sharing [about cyber threats] is so important."
We will have more on this story as it develops.
Source: The Hill