On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 248-168 to pass CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Civil liberties advocates loudly protested the bill, claiming it will give government too much access to individuals’ personal information. The Obama administration is threatening to veto it if it makes it through both chambers of Congress. Congressional sponsors scrambled to amend the bill this week in order to ensure its passage. CISPA is supported by Facebook, Microsoft and other online giants.
H.R. 3523 will allow websites to share users’ personal information with the federal government in the name of cyber security, with no judicial oversight. It would authorize internet providers, social networking sites, and other websites that store personal information to monitor users’ personal emails for the vague purpose of “protecting the rights and property” of the provider. Currently, the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibit companies from routinely monitoring your communications. CISPA would remove those protections, and create a broad immunity for companies against both civil and criminal liability, making it difficult to sue them. The American Library Association warns, "This bill would trump all current privacy laws including the forty-eight state library record confidentiality laws as well as the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the Privacy Act. “