White House threatens veto of CISPA bill

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act bill fails to provide adequate privacy protections, Executive Office says

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Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have noted that the bill would allow companies to collect and share all kinds of personal information with the government, without any judicial oversight. They have claimed the bill will allow government and law enforcement agencies to do an end-run around the privacy protections offered by statutes such as the Federal Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

One aspect of the bill that has raised particular alarm is a provision that would allow information collected for cybersecurity reasons to be also used by the NSA and others agencies for a wide range of unrelated national security purposes.

The mounting outcry against the bill has prompted some proposed revisions by members of the House Intelligence Committee. The proposed amendments include one that would narrow the definition of the information that can be collected and shared with the government. Another prohibits the bill to be used for monitoring copyright and intellectual property violations. A third one would require an annual review of how shared information is used by the NSA and other agencies.

Opponents, however, have contended the proposed changes don't go far enough, especially because CISPA would still allow private companies to share Internet user data with the NSA.

The White House statement today focused in on those same concerns. "The bill would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the Government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information," the statement said.

The bill fails to limit the sharing of personal information and does not have any restrictions on how collected data can be used. It also inappropriately shields private companies in situations where they might improperly collect and share information on a user's legal Internet activities, the statement cautioned. "This broad liability protection not only removes a strong incentive to improving cybersecurity, it also potentially undermines our Nation's economic, national security, and public safety interests."

"Without clear legal protections and independent oversight, information sharing legislation will undermine the public's trust in the Government as well as in the Internet by undermining fundamental privacy, confidentiality, civil liberties, and consumer protections," the White House said.

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

See more by Jaikumar Vijayan on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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