Congress has reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that provides for exceptions to privacy when it comes to digital security.
“To provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities, and for other purposes,” reads the bill.
It’s no surprise considering President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night that “cybersecurity” is a hot political issue once again. In the midst of heart-wrenching mentions of citizens affected by issues like gun control and immigration, the President commented that the nation’s security also depends on giving the government the ability to protect against cyber terrorism. He signed an executive order on cybersecurity to ensure that the U.S. is ready defend itself.
“Congress must act as well by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks,” he said.
And act they did. Reps. Mike Rogers and C.A. Ruppersberger brought back the bill that originally passed in the House of Representatives last year, but did not make it through the Senate. The bill was designed to let government groups have access to private information from each other and Internet service providers and websites, as long as that information was proven to be a security threat.
“We are in a cyberwar — most Americans don’t know it, most folks in the world probably don’t know it — and at this point, we’re losing,” said Rogers of the bill.
Privacy rights and civil liberties groups have protested the bill since it’s’ inception due to vague language that could be interpreted too broadly. Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, is already mobilizing efforts to combat the bill.
“CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA),” explains their website.