White House Threatens To Veto Cybersecurity Law, CISPA, Citing Privacy Concerns

The White House has officially threatened to veto the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) [PDF]. CISPA is designed to facilitate information sharing between technology companies and intelligence agencies, but civil liberties groups worry it creates overly broad powers to spy on Americans.

A White House Memo makes it clear why they are opposing the legislation in its current form:

“The Administration believes that carefully updating laws to facilitate cybersecurity information sharing is one of several legislative changes essential to protect individuals’ privacy and improve the Nation’s cybersecurity. While there is bipartisan consensus on the need for such legislation, it should adhere to the following priorities: (1) carefully safeguard privacy and civil liberties; (2) preserve the long-standing, respective roles and missions of civilian and intelligence agencies; and (3) provide for appropriate sharing with targeted liability protections.”

Noting, importantly, that “However, the Administration still seeks
additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his
senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” (White House’s emphasis)

Congressional staffers tell TechCrunch that CISPA is expected to come to a vote this Thursday, after debate tomorrow. There has been noticeable tension between civil liberties groups and the big Internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, who have not actively opposed the bill (Facebook, at one point, supported it).

This veto threat is definitely a win for civil liberties groups.

-[Hat tip: Brandan Sasso]