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Lawmakers Defend Controversial CISPA Bill

By - Source: Computerworld | B 41 comments

White House has stressed issues with bill in its current form.

Lawmakers have defended the return of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) bill, arguing that the legislation is necessary in order to protect the United States against cyberattacks from regions such as China and Iran.

In a conference call with reporters, Representative Mike Rogers, who is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, emphasized that his bill protects civil liberties while preserving the open and free Internet. "[CISPA] protects privacy by empowering Web services and providers to protect their services," the Michigan Republican said. He added that the bills' supporters are working to resolve issues with the White House, which has criticized the bill in its current form.

With CISPA, the U.S. government and private companies will be permitted to exchange information regarding cyberthreats. For example, should the Homeland Security become aware of a scheduled hack of Facebook, it would subsequently notify the social network. That said, the bill would also allow Facebook to notify the feds if it detected hackers on its network.

CISPA would "empower American businesses to share anonymous cyber threat information with others in the private sector and enable the private sector to share information with the government on a purely voluntary basis."

The general consensus is that CISPA would allow technology firms such as Facebook and Google to expose personal information about their users. "What constitutes 'good faith' is unclear on the face of CISPA, given its overall vagueness—which is likely to make difficult any attempt at litigating against companies," the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in 2012.

The non-profit advocacy group cited that if a firm doesn't have strong security measures in place and is consequently hacked with all of its users' data being stolen, it could potentially avoid any issues with the law by providing details about the hack to the feds.

CISPA simply "empowers the private sector to protect itself in a better way," representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said. "The threat is real," he added, referring to recent hacks of the "New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rogers stressed that members of Congress are surprised to hear about such threats during classified briefings, which "motivates people to do the right thing."

The United States is "really under siege here from countries like Iran, who are trying to bring down our financial services industry," in addition to China, which has carried out "unprecedented [and] epic" cyber attacks.

CISPA had passed the House last year, but failed to make it through the Senate. The White House, meanwhile, threatened to veto it. Ruppersberger said that the administration's veto threat was made at an advanced stage of the bill, which caught him off guard. Alongside Rogers, he has been discussing a revised CISPA bill with the White House. Rogers anticipates "meaningful negotiations" with the administration.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently signed a cybersecurity executive order that allows firms to share information, while allowing federal agencies to notify private companies about cyberthreats, but it doesn't allow private companies to notify the government in order to receive protection from possible repercussions.

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  • 25 Hide
    Soul_keeper , February 17, 2013 3:21 PM
    Problem is these lawmakers spend 24/7 working on ways to screw us.
    While the rest of us work to pay their salaries.

    They are likely hoping we get tired or don't have the energy to keep fighting them.
    We must be vigilant. More laws are not a solution, nomatter how much they try to scare us into thinking we need them.
  • 23 Hide
    house70 , February 17, 2013 4:32 PM
    If the bill is so innocent, why the vagueness in it's terms?
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2013 4:34 PM
    After spending any time on Capital hill or in a court of Law, ALL of these politicians know exactly what it means to use vague language in a bill like they have done here. Hint: it's a blank goddamn check to interpret it however they want and do whatever they want.

    This is no accident. They aren't being naive. They aren't unintentionally screwing us. They know _exactly_ what they are doing.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    itchyisvegeta , February 17, 2013 3:20 PM
    Here we go again. Unless passing a law nullifies or repeals a previous law, passing laws empower the government, not the private sector. Too many fascists running this country.
  • 25 Hide
    Soul_keeper , February 17, 2013 3:21 PM
    Problem is these lawmakers spend 24/7 working on ways to screw us.
    While the rest of us work to pay their salaries.

    They are likely hoping we get tired or don't have the energy to keep fighting them.
    We must be vigilant. More laws are not a solution, nomatter how much they try to scare us into thinking we need them.
  • 18 Hide
    Kami3k , February 17, 2013 3:32 PM
    Maybe NYT and WSJ should listen to their IT department more.

    Problem solved, no bill needed.
  • 1 Hide
    Kami3k , February 17, 2013 3:34 PM
    itchyisvegetaHere we go again. Unless passing a law nullifies or repeals a previous law, passing laws empower the government, not the private sector. Too many fascists running this country.


    This actually would help the private sector, as in it will be able to more easily sell your info. AKA make money, which is the goal of the private sector.

    And I suggest you look up the word fascist.
  • 10 Hide
    KelvinTy , February 17, 2013 3:48 PM
    The "What Kind of Information" is the key point...
    Like I care if you "share" something like, "We are currently under attack!" and "They are trying to access our blablabla (e.g. user data) database!"...
    The problem with the bill is, it doesn't specify, to what extend... All I know, they gov organization could have my address, my social security number, my email address, favourite website, and maybe, even my credit card number... These info can be really harmful to someone...
  • 11 Hide
    dark_knight33 , February 17, 2013 4:01 PM
    itchyisvegetaToo many fascists running this country.


    You have no idea what real fascism is, just like the idiots that think socialism = communism. Instead of name calling, why don't you try pointing out the fact that the real problem is politicians that don't understand technology trying to craft tech law? Most of our politicians don't study tech, and don't really have an idea of the repercussions these laws would create. They constantly take knee jerk reactions on vauge threats from a foreign country that really isn't interested in attacking "our cyber-infrastructure". They make it sound so dramatic, when it's really just private companies skimping on their IT budget.
  • 23 Hide
    house70 , February 17, 2013 4:32 PM
    If the bill is so innocent, why the vagueness in it's terms?
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2013 4:34 PM
    After spending any time on Capital hill or in a court of Law, ALL of these politicians know exactly what it means to use vague language in a bill like they have done here. Hint: it's a blank goddamn check to interpret it however they want and do whatever they want.

    This is no accident. They aren't being naive. They aren't unintentionally screwing us. They know _exactly_ what they are doing.
  • 11 Hide
    Marcus52 , February 17, 2013 4:50 PM
    Kami3kThis actually would help the private sector, as in it will be able to more easily sell your info. AKA make money, which is the goal of the private sector.And I suggest you look up the word fascist.


    You definition of the phrase "private sector" is a bit narrow here. Individuals are part of the private sector. And, the bill isn't designed to allow companies to make more money in a fair and equitable way, it is designed to be an end-run around our rights, further enlisting businesses to violate them on behalf of the government , and in turn said government gives them protection against legal procedures when they get sloppy about their security.

    This has already gone far beyond what anyone should put up with. If law enforcement needs to gather data, they should do it as they had to in the past, with oversight from another, separate organization (the judicial system). "Checks and Balances" is disappearing from our legal system, and that will only mean less freedom, not more safety. Those truly concerned with our safety are perfectly willing to protect it within the bounds of the Constitution.

    Notice that the Republican/conservative will tell you he's all about less government sticking its nose in your business and taking your money away with higher taxes, but they are solidly behind bills like this. Our so-called 2-party system has devolved into trying to select the party that will least take away the rights you hold most dear - and even that is an illusion because almost all politicians are about taking the rights of the individual away and putting the power into their pockets.

    Thank you EFF for being one of the solid bastions against governmental and media wool being pulled over our eyes.
  • -7 Hide
    Kami3k , February 17, 2013 4:56 PM
    Marcus52You definition of the phrase "private sector" is a bit narrow here. Individuals are part of the private sector. And, the bill isn't designed to allow companies to make more money in a fair and equitable way, it is designed to be an end-run around our rights, further enlisting businesses to violate them on behalf of the government , and in turn said government gives them protection against legal procedures when they get sloppy about their security.This has already gone far beyond what anyone should put up with. If law enforcement needs to gather data, they should do it as they had to in the past, with oversight from another, separate organization (the judicial system). "Checks and Balances" is disappearing from our legal system, and that will only mean less freedom, not more safety. Those truly concerned with our safety are perfectly willing to protect it within the bounds of the Constitution.Notice that the Republican/conservative will tell you he's all about less government sticking its nose in your business and taking your money away with higher taxes, but they are solidly behind bills like this. Our so-called 2-party system has devolved into trying to select the party that will least take away the rights you hold most dear - and even that is an illusion because almost all politicians are about taking the rights of the individual away and putting the power into their pockets.Thank you EFF for being one of the solid bastions against governmental and media wool being pulled over our eyes.


    Hey look, a free market fundie who can't handle the free market isn't a good and just god. Most of your post is crap I already know.

    Another reason why I hate free market fundies like you, you assume everyone else is stupid.
  • 8 Hide
    azraa , February 17, 2013 5:08 PM
    The USA needs to stop their bullshit, man, seriously
    Why spend all this time and effort in keeping outdated people with more control than they should have?
    And beyond that, why not simply PAY MORE to the IT professionals with Security specializations? Put the best minds available to work to defend the most critical sites inside the country.

    I really dont get it, why do they make us believe that the threats are from Iran and China, when that's bs? First chance they get, they start policing the citizens just because it is easier to enforce against civilians rather than clever brains from the outside.

    Really, if Iran or China get to break into the CIA or the White House, i'll be glad for them, for they were the most capable, meanwhile our government isn't even capable of defending itself by merely organizing better IT Security teams

    Freaking politicians.
  • 4 Hide
    enewmen , February 17, 2013 5:24 PM
    Can people please stop making laws! I know laws are made to help, but there are just too many laws - no matter how good. The simple reason is more laws = more criminals.
    Law makers should simple re-evaluateand simplify most existing laws. What am I missing?
  • 10 Hide
    lindethier , February 17, 2013 5:37 PM
    Kami3kMaybe NYT and WSJ should listen to their IT department more.Problem solved, no bill needed.


    I agree. I do think that too many businesses view their IT department as just being a drain to their company's bottom line instead of a valuable asset that needs to be given proper support to do their jobs effectively.
  • 5 Hide
    dgingeri , February 17, 2013 5:42 PM
    enewmenCan people please stop making laws! I know laws are made to help, but there are just too many laws - no matter how good. The simple reason is more laws = more criminals. Law makers should simple re-evaluateand simplify most existing laws. What am I missing?

    Well, certain things need to be defined as criminal behavior, and that requires laws. The CISPA bill does absolutely nothing for that, though. CISPA is a smokescreen for the government to seize more power, and nothing more.

    What we need is a law that defines accessing someone's computer or installing a program on another person's computer without their full, explicit knowledge and consent to be deemed illegal. We also need a law that states that using another person's social security number for tax or financial purposes without their knowledge to be illegal.

    Did you know that someone can use your name and SSN to take out a credit card in your name and it is perfectly legal. If they charge on it and don't pay it back, then it become fraud, but simply taking out an account, or using your name and SSN to gain a job, like illegal immigrants frequently do, in your name is not, in and of itself, illegal. This is something that definitely needs to change.

    The big problem is that politicians these days do nothing unless it gains them something. They will completely ignore the needs of the people if they don't gain something from it. This is something else that needs to change. We need to vote out the whole bunch and bring in a whole new set of people. Not one of the men and women in Congress, the Office of the President, or the Supreme Court deserves to stay on the job these days.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2013 5:45 PM
    BLA BLA BLA Terrorism BLA BLA BAL Hackers BLA BLA BLA, that is all I Hear. Terrorists and Hackers are less dangerous than Sharks, Lightning strikes and Coconuts in my eyes.

    Seriously screwed up!
  • 1 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , February 17, 2013 5:51 PM
    Both sides, the WH nor the current law and its pro voters change anything here.
    Any way you look at it, it allows full exchange of info, only who is liable is the difference.
    Since you cant sue city hall, the WH simply wants it to remain that way, and demand businesses to increase their security, at whatever cost.
    My question is, if my info is on some gov site/agency, and it gets hacked, I have no recourse, which means the onus is on government to be much much better, since they work for us, and we arent their customer, we are their boss
  • 2 Hide
    strapmonkey , February 17, 2013 6:47 PM
    dark_knight33You have no idea what real fascism is, just like the idiots that think socialism = communism. Instead of name calling, why don't you try pointing out the fact that the real problem is politicians that don't understand technology trying to craft tech law? Most of our politicians don't study tech, and don't really have an idea of the repercussions these laws would create. They constantly take knee jerk reactions on vauge threats from a foreign country that really isn't interested in attacking "our cyber-infrastructure". They make it sound so dramatic, when it's really just private companies skimping on their IT budget.


    George Orwell wrote in 1944 that "the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'". - from the Wikipedia entry on "fascism".

    Within the context of this statement, the U.S. Federal Government may certainly be considered fascists. They are the consummate bully, possessed of all the externalized characteristics of the bully (egotism, hypocrisy, condescension, use of force as a justifiable means) but completely lacking the internal motivators of bullyism on an individual scale; the Feds use bullying not as a means of compensation for, or camouflage of, perceived shortcomings amongst themselves, but simply because they can. Power tends to corrupt...........
  • 3 Hide
    killerclick , February 17, 2013 7:48 PM
    So tell me again, why do Americans collect guns? To fight government tyranny? Except when the government comes out with something like CISPA, NDAA, The Patriot Act, etc, you all fall in line like little bitches.
  • 5 Hide
    neon neophyte , February 17, 2013 8:48 PM
    protection from iran? gtfo of here with that nonsense. iran is america's target, not the other way around.

    last i checked it was israel and america that were uploading viruses to iran, not the other way around.

    garbage.
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