Growing opposition to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has forced sponsor Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) to make some amendments that he says will secure 218 votes. The vote on the legislation has also been postponed a day, and is expected to be held Friday—unless we stop it, like we stopped SOPA, because the proposed changes aren’t enough to answer privacy concerns.
“A lot of them aren’t substantive,” Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU, told CNET. “They just put the veneer of privacy protections on the bill, and will garner more support for the bill even without making substantial changes.”
There are amendments from Democrats that would make the bill less onerous, but still aren’t adequate. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), has an amendment that would prohibit monitoring of protestors, but not other Americans. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) has one that would make Homeland Security destroy personally identifiable data after a year has elapsed, but doesn’t at all restrict the collection of that data in the first place. These amendments aren’t bad, but they aren’t good enough.
None of the amendments strike out the most dangerous part of the bill, where it says “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” government agencies can collect our private data. That “notwithstanding” means this law trumps every other privacy law, federal and state, on wiretaps, educational records, medical privacy and more. That’s unacceptable. And, of course, the bill still doesn’t allow for the kind of regulation that could actually matter to national security: protecting key infrastructure like electrical grids and water systems from cyber threats.