CISPA Cyber Security Bill Likely Dead on Arrival in Senate due to Privacy Concerns

By Tracey E. Schelmetic April 26, 2013

CISPA opponents take heart: citing “insufficient” privacy protection, the controversial cybersecurity legislation looks like it’s dead on arrival in the Senate, despite clearing the House of Representatives.

An aide to the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which is overseeing the bill, recently told ZDNet that committee chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) believes the Senate will not take up CISPA.

CISPA, which stands for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, would create a framework that would induce voluntary information sharing between private companies and the U.S. government should a cyber attack occur. In the event of a cyber attack that might take down Facebook or Google, for example, they could notify those companies, according to PC World. The reverse is true as well. Should Facebook or Google notice unusual activity on their networks that might suggest a cyber attack, they would share that information with the federal government.

Opponents say the legislation would make it too easy for companies to circumvent existing privacy laws and allow them to hand private information over to the government without impunity.

"CISPA is written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to share your emails and text messages with the government, or your cloud storage company could share your stored files,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation (FCC), an online privacy advocacy group.

The bill’s supporters, including its sponsors, Reps. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, say the bill is necessary to prevent large-scale cyber attacks from Iran and China, which have been on the rise in both frequency and intensity as of late.

CISPA has prominent foes aplenty. Hacktivist group Anonymous recently put out a call for Web sites to “go dark” in protest of the draft legislation. Anonymous did the same last year in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Both SOPA and PIPA were eventually tabled.

President Obama has vowed to veto CISPA should it reach his desk. The Senate is said to be drafting its own version of a cyber security bill that will maintain the cyber security information sharing while preserving civil liberties and privacy rights.

Edited by Alisen Downey

TechZone360 Contributor

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