TEXAS, April 26, 2013—According to a representative of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the controversial bill known as the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed the House of Representatives last week, will almost certainly be shelved by the Senate.
The bill, which privacy advocates believe puts the privacy of individual Americans in jeopardy, would have allowed the federal government to share classified “cyber threat” information with companies, but also provided provisions that would have allowed companies to share information about specific users with the government.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), chairman of the committee, said the passage of CISPA was “important,” but said the bill’s “privacy protections are insufficient.” Facing a certain veto from President Obama, the current House version of CISPA seems to be following the path of the previous version, which was also “shelved” last year.
“I think it’s dead for now,” says Michelle Richardson, legislative council with the ACLU. “CISPA is too controversial, it’s too expansive, it’s just not the same sort of program contemplated by the Senate last year.”
The key words in Ms. Richardson’s statement are “dead for now”. Congress can still pass cyber-security legislation this year. Both Senator Rockefeller and President Obama favor legislation that gives American companies the ability to fight domestic and foreign cyber-attacks against their systems. The challenge will be to craft a bill that has greater privacy protections than CISPA does.
It is questionable, however, if House supporters of CISPA are willing to compromise. According to Richardson, it might be that House supporters, and the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), have gone as far as they possibly can on privacy. “I don’t know if that’s true and I’m not sure how they’ll respond when the Senate puts something back to them,” she said, ”But if they don’t figure out a compromise, they might not get any legislation at all.”
What’s my take? Be vigilante, but don’t expect to see a new cyber-security bill anytime soon. With the ongoing debate on immigration, the continuing sequester debacle, and the upcoming political posturing that will assuredly surround the investigations regarding the Boston bombing, the Senate has a lot on its plate.
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