Dems Diss CISPA As Currently Constituted

Ranking House Communications Subcommittee member Anna Eshoo and some Democratic colleagues warned Monday that the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) would need more changes or they can't support it.

The bill can probably pass the House anyway, but their concerns signal the sort of Democratic pushback that stalled a similar bill that passed the House last session.

In a dear colleague letter being circulated on the Hill, Eshoo and fellow Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.) and Rush Holt (New Jersey) said that, while improved, still falls short of the mark.

That letter came despite changes to the bill by its Republican and Democratic co-sponsors last week in an attempt to address the concerns of Eshoo and others. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor this week.

Eshoo and the others said that the bill lacks three key elements:

1. It does not require companies sharing information with the government or other companies to anonymize that data.

2. It would allow information to be shared directly between private companies and the NSA (Dems want DHS to be the lead agency, Republicans not so much).

3. Dems say it provides a "sweeping" limitation oin liability for sharing information in good faith. "The breadth of conduct thus immunized is considerable and may protect companies who take negligent or reckless action in response to a cyber threat or who fail to take any step to remove personal information prior to sharing," the Dems say, arguing that needs to be limited. .

The legislators plan to introduce amendments in the Rules Committee before the House takes up the bill. If those are not adopted by the House, they say, "we intend to oppose the legislation, and urge Members concerned about civil liberties and privacy to do the same." Privacy activists have not been assuaged by Republican amendments.  Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian last week teamed with Fight for the Future on a video and petition calling on Google,

Twitter and Facebook to fight the bill, saying CISPA would "make every privacy policy on the Web a total joke."

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.