White House threatens to veto cyber bill

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday against a controversial cybersecurity bill in the House, expressing privacy and civil liberties concerns.

CISPA — formally called H.R. 624, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — is designed to legally help private companies share cyberthreat information with the federal government.

“H.R. 624 appropriately requires the federal government to protect privacy when handling cybersecurity information,” said the White House in an official statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Importantly, the Committee removed the broad national security exemption, which significantly weakened the restrictions on how this information could be used by the government,” said the White House.

“The Administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities,” said the White House.

Privacy groups — including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation — have openly and continually opposed the bill, expressing concerns about how much private information would be shared with the government – including the NSA.

CISPA’s sponsors — House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger — assured reporters on a call last week that the bill is “not a surveillance bill.”

However, the edits made to the bill by the committee behind closed doors on April 10 did nothing to alleviate the concerns of civil liberties groups.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted, for example, that amendments addressing privacy concerns or preventing companies from “hacking back” against their digital adversaries barely helped or did not fix core problems with the bill.

The bill has received the support of top technology and telecommunications companies such as IBM, AT&T and Verizon. Various industry trade groups also support it. Google has reportedly not taken a position on the bill.

The White House had also issued a veto threat against CISPA in 2012 as well for similar privacy reasons, favoring instead a cyber bill originating in the Senate.

HPSCI did not return The Daily Caller’s request for comment by the time of publication.

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