The U.S. House of Representatives today will take up a controversial bill called the "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013," also known as CISPA. We applaud our Congressman, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, for co-sponsoring it.
No shortage of emotion surrounds this bill, and there's probably no abating that emotion, even though Rep. Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of that committee, worked after a similar piece of legislation failed last year to try to answer concerns.
The House will begin debate on HR 624 at 10 this morning. A vote is expected tomorrow. The committee approved the bill, 18-2, last week. Many business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturing, of which Marlin Steel is a member, support HR 624 because it frees them to share information with law enforcement to pursue cyber security threats. Other supporters include Airlines for America, American Chemistry Council, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, ASIS International, Association of American Railroads, CTIA–The Wireless Association, Edison Electric Institute, Information Technology Industry Council, Internet Security Alliance, National Business Coalition on E-Commerce & Privacy, The Real Estate Roundtable, Software & Information Industry Association, Telecommunications Industry Association, United States Telecom Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents of the bill, including Reddit, Mozilla and Craigslist, fear it will threaten privacy and give government access to online activities by individuals. (It is ironic that some of these supporters likely dismissed government-conspiracy theories from gun-rights supporters as overwrought but argue their own conspiracy theories in this matter.)
Privacy online has shifted a lot since the early years of the public Internet, when many new users feared ordering anything with a credit card. Some of the social-network opponents of this bill, in fact, have had a big hand in shifting that public privacy boundary from where it used to be.
There are good points on both sides, but the key one in favor of the legislation is that if greater information-sharing can help find and prosecute someone using the Internet to commit a crime, it is a line worth shifting.
Similar privacy arguments have been made about all the security cameras, public and private, that blanket urban areas. But it's a pretty good bet that most people today want authorities to mine every single one of them around Copley Square if it can help bring to justice those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. There is always a line between privacy and security. HR 624 is a bi-partisan measure that attempts to address those concerns while strengthening the arsenal against cyber crime.