A cyber-security bill passed by Congress will violate constitutional protections?

Claim:   A cyber-security bill passed by Congress will violate constitutional protections.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, April 2013]

There is currently a petition about a law passed by the U.S. House of Representatives with the acronym of CISPA. It claims that various rights allowed under the Constitution will be violated if it passes the U.S. Senate. Are the allegations true as the law is written? What is the real intent of the law if it is different from what is being reported?

Origins:   On 18 April 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives (but not yet the Senate) passed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The intent of CISPA is to assist the federal government in combating threats from hackers and cybercriminals (both in the U.S. and abroad) by facilitating the voluntary sharing of information about Internet users between the government and private companies.

Critics of CISPA content that the bill's privacy protections are insufficient or nonexistent, particularly because it does not require the government to secure a warrant prior to
obtaining information on individuals' Internet activity, nor does it allow Internet users to hold companies that share their information with the government legally liable (even though such sharing may violate those companies' stated privacy policies).

Mike Rogers, a Michigan representative and the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has been one of proponents of CISPA, stating that "People were stealing their identities, their accounts, their intellectual property, and subsequent to that, their jobs. [Users] began to question the value of getting on Internet and using [it] for commercial purposes. Their trust in the free and open Internet ... was at risk."

Colorado representative Jared Polis has been an outspoken critic of CISPA, criticizing it as "the biggest government takeover of personal information that I've seen during my time here in Congress."

The House Intelligence Committee has published a document entitled "Myths and Facts about the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)" to counter criticisms of the bill.

CISPA still has a ways to go before becoming enacted as law, as it must be passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama. Neither is a slam dunk, as a similar CISPA bill was passed by the House in 2012 but failed to clear the Senate, and the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement proclaiming that "If the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."

Last updated:   22 April 2013

David Mikkelson founded in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.