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US House Passes CISPA, Senate, White House and Internet Battle Looms

Posted by: , 21:27 AEST, Sat April 20, 2013

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US House of Representatives passes CISPA, but a battle in the Senate, with White House interference, could still see the controversial cybersecurity bill fail to pass
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Image/Photo Credit: VinothChandar (Creative Commons)

The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, was passed in the US House of Representatives with 288 voting yes versus 127 no votes. 

While the majority of yes votes were Republican, 92 out of 201 Democrats also voted for the bill.

Privacy advocates have criticized the bill, which enables private businesses to share your personal details with any government entity, overruling of any existing federal or state privacy laws. Under CISPA, police can, for example, conduct warrant-less database searches, and private business could pass on potentially sensitive personal information to any government agency without any legal consequences.

But supporters of CISPA says that it's needed for national security reasons, with the looming cybersecurity cold-war with China cited as one key reason behind the need for CISPA. U.S. Representative Michael Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee and co-author of the bill, made this point quite clearly when he said: "If you want to take a shot across China's bow, this is the answer."

Mike McCaul (R-TX), a supporter of the bill, wasted no time in tying together the need for CISPA with recent events in Boston. "In the case of Boston, there were real bombs," said McCaul. "In this case, they are digital bombs - and these digital bombs are on their way."

Unlike the equally controversial SOPA bill, opposition to CISPA from the Internet and computing community hasn't been as united. While the ACLU, EFF, Facebook have all come out in opposition to CISPA, the likes of Google, Apple and Yahoo, as well as some of the country's largest ISPs, have so far offered cautious backing.

Despite clear support for CISPA in the US House of Represenatives, it is likely to meet fiercer resistance in the Senate. The White House could intervene as well, with President Obama threatening to veto the bill in its current form unless changes are made to better protect the privacy of Americans. The Internet may also respond like it did against SOPA, with hactivist group Anonymous urging for an Internet Blackout, similar to what transpired during the SOPA protests, on Monday, April 22nd.


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