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White House Threatens to Veto CISPA

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 25 2012

The White House has released a statement suggesting that President Obama would veto the H.R. 3523 - Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in its current form because it "fails to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation's core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards."

The White House says that the bill would "would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the Government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information."

"The bill also 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," the statement also reads.

The statement also says that the bill would inappropriately shield companies from lawsuits where a company's actions were based on cyber-threat information obtained under the bill. It also says the bill treats domestic cybersecurity as "intelligence activity" and in that way "significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres. The Administration believes that a civilian agency – the Department of Homeland Security – must have a central role in domestic cybersecurity, including for conducting and overseeing the exchange of cybersecurity information with the private sector and with sector-specific Federal agencies."

In its statement, the White House says that draft legislation proposed by the Administration last May "provided for information sharing with clear privacy protections and strong oversight by the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board."

This afternoon the House Rules Committee held a hearing about possible amendments to the bill, many of which related to its privacy implications and the role of civilian governmental authority versus military authority.

The committee is scheduled to reconvene later tonight to continue discussing possible amendments. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who is cosponsoring several amendments to the bill, seemed confident in the House's ability to answer the questions the administration had.

"This is just, I think, them kicking up some dust," said Rogers, per Politico's Tony Romm. "We think we can answer questions to get it to a place where the president will sign it."

Advocacy group Demand Progress is already celebrating the veto threat, asking supporters to add their name to a letter "to urge Obama to stand strong, and to let your lawmakers know that you support Obama's veto threat."

The House is planning to vote on the bill Friday.