CISPA critics bolstered by veto threat

April 17, 2013

While opposition to the controversial cybersecurity bill CISPA has not been on the same level as last year’s grassroots groundswell against the anti-piracy bill SOPA, opponents of the bill got a boost late Tuesday when the Obama administration said the president would veto the bill — officially known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — in its current form.

CISPA is designed to make it easier for private companies to share cyberthreat information with the government, and is expected to go for a vote on the House floor this week. But opponents of the measure say the bill would let the government access users’ personal information without a warrant and overrides the existing privacy policies in place at Web firms.

The White House, which threatened to veto a version of the bill last year, issued a Statement of Administrative Policy late Tuesday saying the latest version of the legislation does not provide adequate privacy protections.

“[The] Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the statement said.

Social media users also are mobilizing following comments from bill co-sponsor Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) at a House Rules Committee hearing that characterized the main critics of the bill as “people on the Internet [...] you know, a 14-year-old tweeter in the basement.” He went on to say that once the bill is explained properly that most people agree with its provisions.

Thousands of Twitter users have been sending messages to Rogers on the social network with their ages (and, in some cases, the position of their workplaces in relation to the ground) as a way to demonstrate that there are more opponents to the bill than he may think.

Rogers’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reaction. The congressman’s official Twitter account has sent a message linking to a list of “19 Privacy Improvements” that have been made to the bill since fall 2011.

Other opponents of the bill include Mozilla, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said Wednesday that it believes that the bill “still fails to adequately protect our privacy.”

Related stories:

Digital rights activists vow to fight CISPA

CISPA’s reintroduction stirs new debate

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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