US House of Representatives passes CISPA cybersecurity bill

The US House of Representatives has passed the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA).

Lawmakers in the House voted 288-to-127 Thursday afternoon to accept the bill. Next it will move to the Senate and could then end up on the desk of US President Barack Obama for him to potentially sign the bill into law. Earlier this week, though, senior White House advisers said they would recommend the president veto the bill.

Should CISPA earn the president’s autograph, private businesses will be encouraged to voluntarily share cyberthreat information with the US government. The authors of the bill say this is an effort to better combat the reportedly increasing attempts to harm America’s critical computer networks and pilfer the systems of private companies for intellectual property and other sensitive trade secrets.

One of the bill’s creators, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), said during a round of debate on Wednesday that $400 billion worth of American trade secrets are being stolen by US companies every year. Passing CISPA, he said, would be a common sense solution to a threat that’s growing at an alarming rate.

If your house is being robbed, you call 911 and the police department comes. That’s the same scenario we are looking at here,” he said.

Also testifying Wednesday, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) said CISPA could be used to combat the 25 million cybercrime victims she claims are targeted every day.

That same day, CISPA co-author Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) stressed that his bill doesn’t extend any extra surveillance powers to the federal government, despite condemnation from critics that say exactly that. “It does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector,” he said. Rather, he called it “a critical bipartisan first step for enabling American’s private sector to defend itself” and “improves cybersecurity without compromising our civil liberties.”

“We have yet to find a single United States company that opposes this bill,” said Rep. Rogers.

But companies do in fact oppose CISPA, including a number of entities that carry a good deal of clout around both Silicon Valley and inside the beltway. Just last month Facebook rescinded their support of the act, according to Cnet’s Declan McCullagh, because a spokesperson for the social media site says they prefer a legislative “balance” that ensures “the privacy of our users.” (Which is a complete lie)

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