Obama Administration Opposes CISPA As Congress Amends Proposed Law

The Obama Administration joined the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) debate yesterday when a senior State Department advisor told The Guardian that the White House opposed the controversial bill.

The Obama Administration joined the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) debate yesterday when a senior State Department advisor told The Guardian that the White House opposed the controversial bill.

CISPA emerged in the wake of the equally controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) came out of the gate fast, condemning the bill and two others as overly vague and expressing their concern that it could open the door to corporate and government abuses.

“The Obama administration opposes CISPA,” said Alec Ross, the senior innovation advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “…There is absolutely a need for comprehensive cyber security legislation, [but] part of what has been communicated to congressional committees is that we want legislation to come with necessary protections for individuals.”

Ross would not comment to the Guardian on whether or not the president planned on vetoing the bill if it made its way to the Oval Office.

Opposition to CISPA has been building online, with sites like Reddit focusing attention on the bill’s shortcomings. Those online protests got taken to a new level on Tuesday with a letter sent to Congress from influential technology figures that was critical of the bill, and amid reports that the Obama Administration’s opposition.

Though there is broad consensus about the need for updated cyber security legislation, experts (and even some politicians) agree that in its current form, CISPA is too broad, and could be used to infringe upon user privacy and civil liberties. On Thursday, reports suggested that the House Intelligence Committee is heeding calls and making revisions to the bill in order to address some of the privacy concerns aired by experts, the Obama administration, and people who yell on the Internet.

“Our bill is designed to help protect American companies from advanced foreign cyber threats, like those posed by the Chinese government,” the bill’s most vocal sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a statement regarding the changes. “It has always been my desire to do that in manner that doesn’t sacrifice the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, and I am confident that we have achieved that goal.”

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) released a statement today lauding the CISPA revisions, but claiming that the revisions fail to address two troubling issues. One, is that private companies are allowed to share data directly with the National Security Administration (NSA). The other gives the NSA and other agencies broad authority to further share such information for national security reasons.

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  • ISights on

    Yes, the President has threatened to veto CISPA -- in its current form. However, CISPA's primary sponsors still plan on slapping on some patches (excuse me, amendments) and to proceed towards Friday's vote.

    Unfortunately, many of those amendments have their own issues. One even offers -- I kid you not -- a promise to "develop" policies and procedures that will protect individual privacy and civil liberties... after the bill is passed.

    It's okay. Trust us.

  • Rwolf on

    CISPA Legislation Is Disguised—Fascism

    CISPA the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act if signed into law will allow——the military and NSA warrant-less spying on Americans’ confidential electronic Communications; any transmitted private information circumventing the fourth amendment. CISPA will allow any self-protected cyber entity to share with the Feds any person’s private information that might allegedly relate to a cyber threat or crime. Considering the U.S. Government’s current business relationship with telephone and Internet companies, it should be expected the feds would use CISPA to gain unprecedented access to lawful Americans’ private electronic communications. Almost every week news media reports corrupt police arrested for selling drugs, taking bribes and perjury. It is foreseeable that broad provisions in CISPA that call for private businesses / cyber entities to share with Spy Agencies confidential information will open the door for corrupt government and police to sell a corporations’ confidential information to its competitors, foreign governments and others. CISPA provides insufficient safeguards to control disposition of (shared) confidential corporate / cyber entity information, including confidential information shared by spy agencies with private entities derived from spying on Americans. 

    The recently House Passed Cyber Security Bill overrides the Fourth Amendment. Government may use against Americans in Criminal, Civil and Administrative courts (any information) derived from CISPA warrant-less spying.

    CISPA will open the door for U.S. Government spy agencies such as NSA; the FBI; government asset forfeiture contractors, any private entity (to take out of context) any innocent—hastily written email, fax or phone call to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, assess fines and or civilly forfeit a business or property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.

    CISPA (warrant-less electronic surveillance) will enable the U.S. Justice Department to bypass the Fourth Amendment, use information extracted from CISPA electronic surveillance) of Americans’ Web Server Records, Internet Activity, transmitted emails, faxes, and phone calls to issue subpoenas in hopes of finding evidence or to prosecute Citizens for any alleged crime or violation.

    If the current CISPA is signed into law it is problematic federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private government contractors will want access to prior Bush II NSA and other government illegally obtained electronic records to secure evidence to arrest Americans; civilly forfeit their homes, businesses and other assets under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on “Asset Forfeiture” to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?

    Note: the passed “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (effectively eliminated) the “five year statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture of property: the statute now runs five years (from the date) police allege they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. If CISPA takes affect, allows (no warrant) electronic government surveillance of Americans, it is expected CISPA will be used by government not only to thwart cyber threats, but to aggressively prosecute Americans and businesses for any alleged crime: U.S. Government spy and police agencies; quasi government contractors for profit, will relentlessly sift through Citizen and businesses’ (government retained Internet data), emails and phone communications) to discover possible crimes or civil violations.

    A corrupt U.S. Government Administration too easily use CISPA no-warrant-seized emails, faxes, Internet data and phone call information) to target, blackmail and extort its political opposition; target any Citizen, corporation and others in the manner Hitler used his Nazi passed legislation that permitted no-warrant Nazi police searches and seizure of Citizens and businesses or to extort support for the Nazi fascist government. Hitler Nazi Laws made it possible for the Nazis to strong-arm German parliament to pass Hitler’s 1933 Discriminatory Decrees that suspended the Constitutional Freedoms of German Citizens. History shows how that turned out.

    CISPA warrant-less electronic surveillance) has the potential of turning America into a Fascist Police State.

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