White House Promises Veto of CISPA in its Present Form

While CISPA is likely to come up for a vote as soon as this afternoon or tomorrow, the White House has come out against it in a statement and has promised to veto it if it crosses President Barack Obama's desk in its current state.

The Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 624 – Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) sponsored by Rep. Rogers, (R-MI) and Rep. Ruppersberger (D-MD) from the Administration's Office of Management and Budget says that, while the President believes that laws need to be updated to deal with cybersecurity threats, these laws need to be "carefully updated" and must "(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."

The thrust of the letter comes in the following paragraph:

"The Administration recognizes and appreciates that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 in an effort to incorporate the Administration's important substantive concerns. 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. The Administration seeks to build upon the continuing dialogue with the HPSCI and stands ready to work with members of Congress to incorporate our core priorities to produce cybersecurity information sharing legislation that addresses these critical issues. "

The statement goes on to say that the Administration supports the "longstanding tradition to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres, while recognizing that the Nation's cybersecurity requires shared responsibility from individual users, private sector network owners and operators, and the appropriate collaboration of civilian, law enforcement, and national security entities in government."

Another sticking point is the broad scope of limiting liabilities for corporations who share information:

"…the Administration is concerned about the broad scope of liability limitations in H.R. 624. Specifically, even if there is no clear intent to do harm, the law should not immunize a failure to take reasonable measures, such as the sharing of information, to prevent harm when and if the entity knows that such inaction will cause damage or otherwise injure or endanger other entities or individuals."

You can read the entire statement here (PDF). The main point of the statement is that CISPA in its current state is not acceptable to the White House.

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