updated 08:08 pm EDT, Wed April 10, 2013
Changes to bill limited to personal information restrictions
A slightly modified version of last year's failed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has been voted through the House Intelligence Committee, with an 18-2 victory. The new revision of the bill, left mostly unaltered by the committee, will likely reach the House for a general vote by April 19 along with a number of other cybersecurity bills.
This year's version of CISPA has the same goals as the 2012 version -- the bill is aimed at streamlining the process that currently prevents governmental and private-sector sharing of information about malicious source code, ongoing attacks, and other internet-based threats. The goal is information sharing in real-time, ostensibly to aid US commerce in preventing and stopping attacks. Critics of the bill are concerned with the bypassing of legal privacy protections, as well as giving a large amount of collectible data about Internet users to the National Security Agency for use as it sees fit.
"What we came up with, we think, is the right approach. It is the one bill out of everything you've seen on both sides of this great institution of the United States Congress that protects a free and open Internet and allows people to share cyber threat information to protect their clients, their business, their [personally identifiable information]," co-author of the bill Mike Rogers (R-MI) told reporters following the discussion by the committee.
One approved change for the bill added by Rogers and fellow Representative and author Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) requires the government to redact personal information from the cyber threat data collected by companies and provided to the government. A vague provision in the bill allowing the government unfettered access to the information for "national security purposes" was also excised.
Reservations about the bill still exist. "I think there are positive changes to the bill but they don't go far enough," Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said after the vote. "I do think that the reservations that the White House has stated to the bill are still there and my expectation is that they would be appreciative of the steps that were taken, but also call for additional steps."
The bill cleared this same committee with a 17-1 margin of victory, and passed a vote by the house in the spring. CISPA was not discussed in the Senate following threats of a veto by the White House, citing lack of privacy protections for citizens.