The White House doesn’t support the amended version of CISPA, the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act that would let companies and the feds monitor and share your online communication without a warrant. But while President Obama remains opposed to the bill’s latest iteration, he’s apparently hedging on whether he’d veto it.
The bill, aimed at data sharing between the public and private sectors, is a security nightmare for its vagueness and privacy oversight. Last year, we heard the same pop shots from Obama, except that back then he promised to veto the law. This year he isn’t making any promises, although White House rhetoric suggests that the polarizing bill still comes up short in the area of privacy concerns.
White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement:
We continue to believe that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, 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.
These comments came a day after the House Intelligence Committee passed the bill on an 18-2 vote on Wednesday. New amendments to the bill require government agencies to strip away any private information they receive from companies participating in information sharing, prohibit companies from retaliating against alleged hackers or cyberattackers and backed away from a clause that would have allowed the use of threat information sharing arrangements for vague “national security” reasons. These sound like digital freedom wins, but most other privacy protections didn’t make the cut.
It’s unclear which way Obama will tilt, but if this year’s slew of major government targeted cyber attacks and the President’s cyber mandate mean anything, it looks like he may lean (and be forced politically) towards more regulation, even if it’s flawed.
Next week, the new version of the bill is expected to head to the House floor for a vote. If you want to help light a fire under the president and legislators, sign this petition from the privacy advocacy group Fight For The Future and check out this video from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to see why you should also hold tech companies accountable for their support of this poorly written law.
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