Controversial Cyber Security Bill Passes U.S. House, Veto Threat Looms

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Controversial legislation related to the sharing of data in the area of cyber security cleared the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 248 to 168 on Thursday. Known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), proponents of the bill maintain that it would help guard tech networks against cyber threats by allowing threat information sharing between the U.S. government and security companies.

However, the bill’s opponents fear that it mandates too much power and too broadly defines exactly what information can be used in the sharing process. Passed upon mostly partisan lines in the U.S. House (voted for by 206 Republicans & 42 Democrats), the legislation is now set for consideration in the U.S. Senate where it likely faces amendments.

In its current form, the bill has received the threat of veto from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. In a statement made available Wednesday, the White House said the CISPA “fails to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation’s core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards.” Also cited by the White House was the idea that the bill failed to sufficiently provide oversight and lacked “sufficient limitations on the sharing of personally identifiable information.”

Despite the White House’s veto threat, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner enthusiastically expressed his support for CISPA on Thursday. “By listening to private-sector job creators, civil liberties advocates, and technology experts, I believe the House put together a strong bill that will help stop cyber-attacks that threaten our economy and our privacy while keeping the Internet free from government control,” commented Boehner in a statement made available via the House Speaker’s office. “I would urge Senate Democrats to quickly consider this bill, and send it to the president for his signature,” Boehner continued.

CISPA was initially introduced in November of last year. Some analysts have compared the legislation to other controversial bills including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which were placed on indefinite hold following strong opposition through a service blackout from tech innovators including Wikipedia in January.