White House Issues Veto Threat Over CISPA


It looks like President Barack Obama may finally come down on the right side of an issue. According to a statement released yesterday from the White House, President Obama has issued a veto threat over H.R. 624 — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which is more commonly known as CISPA.

“The Administration recognizes and appreciates that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 in an effort to incorporate the Administration’s important substantive concerns,” read the statement from the White House. “However, the Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The “improvements” mentioned in the statement are the need for greater privacy protections than the bill currently provides for Internet users.

“H.R. 624 appropriately requires the Federal Government to protect privacy when handling cybersecurity information,” noted the statement. “Importantly, the Committee removed the broad national security exemption, which significantly weakened the restrictions on how this information could be used by the government.”

“The Administration, however, remains concerned that 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 White House explained. “Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable – and not granted immunity – for failing to safeguard personal information adequately. The Administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to find a workable solution to this challenge.”

While most agree that more needs to be done to protect the United States from hackers and other cyber threat, it needs to be done in a way that ensures Internet privacy. The bill, as currently, simply doesn’t go far enough to that end. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently noted that CISPA gives immunity to companies that improperly share data with the government.

Additionally, an open letter from academics, engineers, and professionals to lawmakers noted that CISPA “uses vague language to describe network security attacks, threat indicators, and countermeasures, allowing for the possibility that innocuous online activities could be construed as ‘cybersecurity’ threats” and exempts certain laws that protect Internet privacy.

CISPA is expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives at some point today. The veto threat from President Obama is unlikely to deter movement. Despite aveto threat last year, the House still pushed the bill through in a 248-168 vote.

Stay tuned.

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