US House of Representatives passes controversial cyber security bill Cispa

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US House of Representatives passes controversial cyber security bill Cispa

Warwick Ashford

The US House of Representatives has passed a cyber security bill to allow the government access to web users' private data on suspicion of a cyber threat.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa) would also allow easier information-sharing between security agencies and private web firms.

Unlike the failed Stop Online Privacy Act (Sopa), technology firms such as Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft are among some 800 US-based firms that have reacted positively to the bill.

Writing on a corporate blog a week ago, Facebook vice-president of US public policy, Joel Kaplan, said Cispa "would impose no new obligations" on Facebook to share data with anyone.

But US advocacy groups have expressed concerns about the transparency of the bill and claim it is aimed at file-sharers rather than hackers.

Proposals for similar government snooping legislation in the UK has been strongly criticised by civil liberties groups, forcing government to reconsider.

In a statement on Wednesday, the White House said President Barack Obama would veto the act if it reached his desk, according to the BBC.

The administration said the law repeals "important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality and civil liberties safeguards".

The White House also said the bill "lacks sufficient limitations on the sharing of personally identifiable information between private entities and does not contain adequate oversight or accountability measures necessary to ensure that the data is used only for appropriate purposes."

Members of online hacktivist group Anonymous took to Twitter to voice opposition to the bill, according to the Telegraph.

"CISPA has only passed the House. The fight is still on," Anonymous said on Twitter account @youranonnews.

Before passing the bill by 248 votes to 168, the House extended the bill to cover information gathered for the investigation of cyber-security crimes, protection of individuals from death or serious bodily harm and the protection of minors from exploitation.

House bills must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the President before becoming law, unless both the House and Senate re-pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

The Senate is also considering cyber-security legislation, but its bill differs considerably from Cispa and is not yet scheduled for a vote.


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