The United States House of Representatives approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) [Thursday] by a comfortable 288 to 127 margin. Almost half of the House’s Democrats joined 196 Republicans in supporting the measure.
The legislation grants companies broad legal immunity when they share information related to online threats with one another and with the federal government. Advocates argue that the legislation is needed to allow companies to quickly and efficiently share information in order to help secure their networks.
But critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation describe the legislation as an attack on user privacy. They worry that companies will use the broad immunity offered by CISPA to ignore other laws that protect consumer privacy. And in a veto threat issued on Tuesday, the White House echoed these arguments.
“The bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities,” the Obama administration said on Tuesday.
“The US House just passed CISPA, undermining the privacy of millions of Internet users,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a tweet. “Now we take this fight to the Senate.”
“I voted against #CISPA because it does not adequately protect the civil liberties of Americans,” Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) tweeted. “People deserve both privacy and security.”
So far, the CISPA debate has been a repeat of last year’s legislative process. An earlier version of CISPA passed the House in 2012 despite the objection of civil liberties groups, but companion legislation got bogged down in the Senate.