When the House introduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in 2011, purportedly to help prevent cyber threats to national security, the measure was criticized heavily by Internet policy watchdogs and civil liberties groups, who argued that the bill would likely encroach on internet users’ Fourth amendment rights. The bill passed the House in the spring of 2012 but died in the Senate under threat of a White House veto.
Now CISPA is back, reintroduced in the House by its original author, Rep. Mike Rogers (R‑Mich.). By all accounts, the “new” version poses the same threats to privacy rights that alarmed the White House a year ago. In an unusual secret session on Wednesday, the House Intelligence committee passed the bill without additional privacy protections proposed by Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.). The measure could be up for a full House vote as soon as next week.
This time around, it remains to be seen whether the president will issue a veto. In January, Obama unilaterally enacted a major provision of the bill when he signed an executive order directing federal agencies to share “cyber security” information with private companies.
CISPA opponents are as vocal as ever. As part of a “week of action” in March, thousands of websites including Craigslist and Reddit broadcast an “action tool” that invited users to send an automated statement of opposition to Congress, and a WhiteHouse.gov petition gathered more than 100,000 signatures — enough to earn a response from the administration, which is forthcoming. You can sign a petition or find further actions at the websites of the ACLU, Demand Progress, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.