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House Passes Controversial CISPA Cybersecurity Bill, Despite Privacy Concerns

Posted by: , 18:02 AEST, Fri April 27, 2012

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The US House of Representatives pass the controversial CISPA cybersecurity data sharing bill by an overwhelming majority, as critics of the bill vows to continue fighting
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Image/Photo Credit: VinothChandar (Creative Commons)

The US House of Representatives passed the controversial CISPA cybersecurity information sharing bill by a vote of 248-168 on Thursday after last minute amendments, even as President Obama threatens to veto an earlier form of the bill.

The controversial nature of the bill derives from language contained which appears to override all existing privacy laws and other legal statutes in relation to data sharing by Internet companies and government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA. Critics argue that CISPA would allow agencies to obtain highly private data without the need of a warrant, and without any sort of oversight. ISPs sharing data are than given immunity from "virtually any liability" on privacy grounds. 

CISPA has been dubbed "Son of SOPA", although the former dealt mainly with intellectual property issues, and the more successful CISPA deals with cybersecurity threats. Another major difference, and key to the successful passing of CISPA in the House, was the support given to this latest bill by major tech companies Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Verizon, AT&T and Intel. On the other hand, tech companies had were largely against SOPA, and had organized the larger Internet community to shut down that particular bill.

The support from the tech community for CISPA was key in its passing, although it was not without opposition on the floors of the House. A majority of Democrats voted against the bill, along with 28 Republicans. 

CISPA now moves to a vote in the Senate, where similar bills have previously been struck down. With the White House Office of Management and Budget urging the President veto the bill, the prospect of CISPA as law still seems far enough away for now. "We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity," urged the ACLU's legislative counsel, Michelle Richardson.


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