The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday aimed at helping the government and private sector share information about cyber threats. But privacy advocates say it gives the government and industry excessive ability to monitor online communications.
The bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, passed 248-168.
Bill proponents say the legislation is necessary to help the country protect itself from attacks that steal intellectual property and other sensitive data. “We can’t stand by and do nothing as U.S. companies are hemorrhaging from the cyber looting coming from nation states like China and Russia,” said Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of CISPA, in a statement. “America will be a little safer and our economy better protected from foreign cyber predators with this legislation.”
But civil liberties advocates and other groups say the bill poses serious risks to privacy. “We will not stand idly by as the basic freedoms to read and speak online without the shadow of government surveillance are endangered by such overbroad legislative proposals," said Rainey Reitman, activism director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in a statement. The EFF said it that it would continue to fight the legislation if it is taken up in the Senate, whose approval the bill would now require.
Earlier this week the Obama Administration, citing privacy and other concerns, threatened to veto the bill if it reaches the White House in its current form.
photo from congresscheck/flickr