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CISPA is a surfboard-sized cockroach that refuses to die despite the fact that Congress, major corporations and the President himself are all spraying it with Raid. Last month, the bill reemerged from the dark crevice from which it came and scuttled out onto the House floor, where it has been dodging shoes ever since.
[For those looking for the cliff notes version of this bill: In 2012 Congress shot down CISPA because it invaded the privacy of Americans. It would allow companies to share private information with government agencies to protect users from cyber-attacks. The bill was reintroduced in its exact form last month, with less support than ever. More on that here.]
Last Tuesday, a White House petition reached the required 100,000 signatures for President Obama to address the issue. This will be an easy one for the President, who already issued a statement last April promising to veto the bill:
Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, in its current form.
In short, President Obama believes the government should craft better legislation that doesn’t compromise the privacy of Americans by having corporations share user data.
Not only is the bill unpopular with the American people, several major corporations have pulled their support this time around. TNW recently posted a comparative list of companies that wrote favorable letters for bill in 2012 versus companies that are standing by it in 2013. The list has shrunk from 28 to 19 supporting organizations with power players like Boeing and Microsoft sitting this one out.
Facebook is the latest to join the ranks of private sector companies distancing themselves from CISPA. They sent a statement to CNET explaining that their choice was meant to protect the privacy of their users. Naturally, this change of heart raised some bemused eyebrows as Facebook is regularly under fire for its convoluted and vague privacy settings.
Furthermore, while the house passed CISPA last year with a vote of 248 – 168, the bill has lost traction this time around. Not only are politicians changing their minds with the tide, but there are other cyber-fish to fry in Congress. According to GovTrack, there have been seven bills working their way through the house and senate in relation to cybersecurity. The tracking page for CISPA gives the bill a 15% chance of even making it out of the House committee and a 2% chance of being enacted. (In all fairness, only 3% of proposed bills were in enacted between 2011 and 2013.)
The outrage of the American people may be less this time around compared to last year’s protests about SOPA and PIPA, but the fact that all those who stood by the bill are slowly creeping away means that it’s bound to die eventually. We just need to find the right shoe with which to squash it.