April 26, 2012
In what can only be described as a dirty hat trick, U.S. House of Representatives quickly amended the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act(CISPA) and then brought the bill to the floor for a vote a day earlier than was scheduled. The fast and dirty vote on the bill led to it being approved by a vote of 248-168 (15 no votes). You can see if your representative voted for the bill by checking out this document.
Pushing the bill through at mach 10 is bad enough, but what's worse are the amendments that Rep. Ben Quayle (R - AZ) managed to get added. These amendments make CISPA infinitely worse than it already was. Here is what TechDirt says the amendments add to CISPA:Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for "cybersecurity" or "national security" purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a "cybersecurity crime". Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government's power.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a lengthy write-up on the other amendments that made it into CISPA here. If you want to see exactly what this bill is all about you can read the entire thing here. Finally, if you want to stop this bill, visit the ECA's Action Page to send your elected representatives a letter strongly expressing you opposition to CISPA.
Ultimately this is a setback for opponents of CISPA, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the this bill will make it to law. In order for it to pass it has to make it through the Senate, and then the President has to sign it into law. The White House has already promised to veto CISPA. Let's see if they keep their word.