The Republican-controlled House betrayed Constitutional privacy protections by passing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) with overwhelming support last week.
In a 288-127 vote, the House rammed through the cyberspying bill that would allow email and Internet providers to share confidential information with the Federal government. While there were a handful of libertarian-leaning GOP holdouts, most Party-line Republicans justified a “yea” vote in the name of national security.
“This is not a surveillance bill,” Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said during debate over the bill. “It does not allow the national security agencies or the Department of Defense or our military… to monitor our domestic networks.”
But privacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union point out language in the bill that would effectively overrule Federal and State laws, including online privacy policies and wiretap rules.
The bill says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes — (i) use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property of such self-protected entity; and (ii) share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government…
The term ‘self-protected entity’ means an entity, other than an individual, that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself.
The House also voted in support of CISPA last year but the bill was quashed in the Democrat-controlled Senate. This time, on the heels of a veto threat from President Barack Obama, it’s likely that the Senate will once again allow CISPA to die.
The debate over CISPA has made strange bedfellows of Senate Democrats following the President’s lead in opposition of the bill and conservative Americans who see it as damaging to 4th Amendment privacy protections.
The conservative-aligned organization Freedomworks said in a recent statement: “There are grave Fourth Amendment concerns with CISPA. The bill would override existing privacy laws to allow companies to share ‘cyber threat information’ with the federal government without making any reasonable effort to strip out any personal information from the file.”