The battle over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is far from over and lawmakers and leaders in the government's various security agencies are pushing hard to get legislation in the Senate passed. Earlier this year the House of Representatives passed CISPA with the hopes of the Senate putting together a bill of its own. At the time the Senate let that hot potato cool by saying that it had no plans to pursue such legislation. But as we near the close of 2013, lawmakers in the Senate have been secretly crafting a bill that is as close to CISPA as you can get, and its authors think it will pass.
But to convince fellow lawmakers, the government is rolling out the heavyweights to sound the alarm bells about an impending and disastrous cyber attack. In their minds, if CISPA isn't passed then the U.S. could face a cyber Armageddon of some sort.
One of the loudest voices in favor of CISPA is General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command. Alexander said today that, in order to protect American interests from cyber attacks, the NSA needs the cooperation and trust of the public and the private sector. Alexander made his comments during a speech at the Telecommunications Industry Association’s annual conference. In his speech he defended the NSA's vast surveillance programs and said that much of the reporting based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were inaccurate.
Alexander told attendees that the debate surrounding the NSA surveillance programs is holding up the discussion about new cybersecurity legislation. Policymakers believe it is essential that corporations and government agencies should share data freely and corporations should have immunity from lawsuits. These two things are at the core of CISPA.
Civil liberties and privacy groups against the NSA's surveillance programs have also opposed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), because it does not place enough limits on the type of personal information businesses could share with the U.S. government.
The House passed CISPA in April, but the bill has stalled in the Senate. Obviously the Senate is working on a bill with many of the same provisions found in the House bill. We expect to hear more about the details of this bill in the weeks and months ahead.