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Leading Digital Rights Group Opposes CISPA After House Republicans Block Privacy Amendments From Debate

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 25 2012

A leading digital rights group that had spent months negotiating and fine-tuning a complex and controversial cybersecurity bill finally came out and opposed the legislation after House Republicans blocked debate over several key amendments that would have addressed some of the privacy and civil liberties concerns raised by the legislation.

"In issuing a rule excluding amendments on two of the major privacy and civil liberties issues remaining in CISPA—the flow of information to the National Security Agency and the authority to use information for non-cybersecurty purposes—the House leadership has squandered an opportunity to achieve balanced cybersecurity legislation," said the Center for Democracy and Technology, one of the leading digital rights groups that had been working closely with the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee over the language of the legislation.

The legislation at issue is H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Act (CISPA.)

The House Rules Committee met on Wednesday to decide which amendments would be given time to be debated on the House floor on Thursday. But key amendments offered by House Democrats to address the privacy and civil liberties issues were rejected. Those included several separate amendments offered by House Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie Thompson of Mississipi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill.)

The CDT further stated:

"Earlier this week, after extensive discussions with the House Intelligence Committee and after agreeing with the Committee on amendments to address some issues, CDT said, "The bill falls short because of the remaining concerns - the flow of Internet data directly to the NSA and the use of information for purposes unrelated to cybersecurity. We support amendments to address these concerns. Recognizing the importance of the cybersecurity issue, in deference to the good faith efforts made by Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger, and on the understanding that amendments will be considered by the House to address our concerns, we will not oppose the process moving forward in the House."

We worked very hard to improve this bill. Now that the House leadership has decided to block amendments addressing two of our core issues, CDT cannot stand silent. We must oppose CISPA

In addition to the Administration, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, a group of conservative organizations have spoken out against the legislation in its current form including The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Freedom Works.

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