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Privacy advocates vow to continue CISPA fight

April 27, 2012 01:30 PM ET

The EFF condemned Thursday's vote in the House and vowed to continue its fight against in the Senate.

"Hundreds of thousands of Internet users spoke out against this bill, and their numbers will only grow as we move this debate to the Senate," said Lee Tien, EFF's senior staff attorney, in a statement. Tien added that EFF will continue opposing the bill in an effort to ensure that "Congress does not sacrifice those rights in a rush to pass vaguely-worded cybersecurity bills."

The CDT, meanwhile, is "extremely disappointed" by CISPA's passage in the House, said Mark Stanley, the public policy organization's new media manager. "We think it is a seriously flawed piece of legislation and we think the process by which it was passed is flawed," he said.

The CDTs biggest concern is that the legislation would allow private companies to share Internet communications data with the NSA without judicial oversight. The fact the data can be used for a broad range of national security purposes is disconcerting Stanley added.

Following the House vote, the focus of backers and opponents quickly shifted to two cybersecurity bills being considered by the Senate.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, is sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and the Secure IT act is sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Both bills have problems said Jerry Brito, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The McCain bill is closer to CISPA in language and intent than Lieberman's, which would put the United States Department of Homeland Security in charge of overseeing cybersecurity.

Like CISPA, the Secure IT act would allow private companies to collect and share a broad range of Internet user information with the NSA and several federal agencies, under the premise of cybersecurity, Brito said.

Rather than tweaking existing statutes to make information sharing easier, Secure IT, like CISPA, proposes fundamentally new rules. "It takes a scythe rather than a scalpel to privacy laws," Brito said.

Lieberman's proposal would put the United States Department of Homeland Security in charge of regulating critical infrastructure protections, he said. "I've not seen the case yet where the government needs to come in and tell private network operators how to secure their networks," Brito said.

Of the two bills, Lieberman's proposal looks the one more likely to be debated in the Senate, Brito predicted.

If and when a Senate passes a bill, it will then need to be reconciled with the House version before it lands on the President's desk. The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto the CISPA legislation in the form passed by the House.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at Twitter@jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed Vijayan RSS. His e-mail address is

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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