The Complex

The opposition to CISPA swings into action

In case you haven't seen it yet, the campaign to stop the recently reintroduced Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, is underway.

CISPA, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Reps Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersburger (D-Md.), would allow the government and private sector to share information on cybersecurity threats with one another. Particularly upsetting to privacy advocates is the fact that the bill allows private businesses to share information with the Defense Department or intelligence agencies while providing immunities from lawsuits should the businesses improperly share information about private citizens.

The bill died last year after the White House said it would veto it due to privacy concerns. But last month, Rogers and Ruppersburger said they would try to work with the White House this year to avoid another veto threat.

"The administration generally does not take postions on bills that have just been introduced, we wait until they actually come to the floor," said Michael Daniel, White House cybersecurity coordinator when asked by reporters last month about the effort to revive CISPA. "That said, if they [Rogers and Ruppersburger] have indeed just reintroduced what passed the House last year, we'd still have some significant concerns with the bill. But, I can say we are very open to working with any of the committees in Congress" to develop cyber security legislation.

Here's a small sampling of some of the groups that are leading the fight against CISPA in 2013.

First up is the ACLU, a group that supported last year's Cyber Security Act of 2012 -- better known as the Lieberman-Collins bill after its Senate sponsors -- has joined the campaign against the reintroduced CISPA, saying that it will fight any bill that doesn't include privacy protections similar to those included in Lieberman-Collins.

CISPA "still has all of the privacy problems as last year -- liberal sharing of personal information, possible militarization of the Internet, and permissive use of collected information," Michelle Richardson, a DC-based lawyer with the ACLU, tells Killer Apps.

"If the House wants smart cyber legislation that also protects privacy, it needs to ensure that the programs are civilian-led, minimize the sharing of sensitive personal information between government and corporations, and protect collected information from non-cyber uses," reads a post on the ACLU's website. "Get ready to fight for your right to online privacy once again."

Open Web advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has also kicked off a new push to defeat CISPA as it stands.

"Just like last year, the bill has stirred a tremendous amount of grassroots activism because it carves a loophole in all known privacy laws and grants legal immunity for companies to share your private information," reads the section of the EFF's site dedicated to petitioning Congress to kill the bill.

Last week, an email from the civil liberties advocacy group DemandProgress was forwarded by a friend to my Gmail, asking me to sign a petition to stop CISPA. Here's a slightly edited copy of its text:

The misguided, anti-privacy bill -- defeated last year by a huge public outcry -- has been reintroduced in Congress. The new version of the bill would allow private companies to share our personal data with the government, other companies, and private agencies like the MPAA. They don't need a warrant, and companies who share your information are given immunity from all pre-existing privacy laws! No wonder companies like AT&T and Verizon have already signed on in support. Supporters of CISPA -- like its sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger -- have said they can't see any reason why businesses needed to hide your personal data from the government. They don't get it.

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