Cyberthreat-Sharing Rider Makes It to Budget Bill

WASHINGTON. D.C. -- Among the riders that made it onto the omnibus budget bill accord reached lateTuesday (Dec. 15) was a version of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which would provide liability protection for companies, including ISPs, who share cyberthreat information with the government and each other.

ISPs supported the bill, but various public interest groups and a number of legislators have argued it guts privacy protections and allows government surveillance overreach. The issue is obviously a hot-button one in an age of growing terrorist threats. Republican presidential candidates debated the issue in their Dec. 15 face-off on CNN, with the candidates divided. Rand Paul, for example, is particularly concerned about government surveillance.

The Obama Administration supports granting the limited liability, though critics of CISA say the budget bill version essentially provides blanket, not narrow, liability protection.

After the bill was added, the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future and Access Now all criticized the move, calling it an usurpation of the Democratic process, an attempt to expand government surveillance and a failure to protect the Internet.

Fight for the Future said President Obama should veto the budget bill over the issue.

"[N]ow it’s up to President Obama to prove that his administration actually cares about the Internet," Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer said. "If he does, he has no choice but to veto this blatant attack on Internet security, corporate accountability, and free speech."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.