Business, Economics and Jobs

White House threatens CISPA veto


U.S. President Barack Obama signs a proclamation to designate federal lands within the former Fort Ord as a national monument in the Oval Office of the White House April 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. According to the White House, "Fort Ord, a former military base located on California’s Central Coast, is a world-class destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the area’s history and scenic landscapes."


Chip Somodevilla

The Obama administration is threatening to veto CISPA days before the bill is set to be debated by Congress next Thursday.

In an official statement, the White House argues that the bill does not put sufficient limitations on the sharing of personally identifiable information between private companies and lacks oversight in general. 

“The American people expect their Government to enhance security without undermining their privacy and civil liberties. Without clear legal protections and independent oversight, information sharing legislation will undermine the public's trust in the Government as well as in the Internet by undermining fundamental privacy, confidentiality, civil liberties, and consumer protections,” read the statement.

In an alternative bill backed by the White House, the Department of Homeland Security would have the power to enforce cyber security standards for critical systems. House Republicans and other supporters of CISPA said, however, that such legislation would impose unnecessary regulations on businesses.

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CISPA deals mainly with information sharing between the federal government and the private sector. As most cyber threat intelligence is classified, the bill seeks to create circumstances in which the government and intelligence agencies can provide information to private companies that would otherwise be classified.

"If H.R. 3523 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," the statement also read. 

CISPA’s authors, Congressmen Mike Rogers and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger issued a joint statement on Tuesday hoping to assuage the privacy concerns brought forth by the White House with amendments to the bill. 

"We would also draw the White House's attention to the substantial package of privacy and civil liberties improvement announced yesterday which will be added to the bill on the floor," they said. 

In spite of “improvements” the bill’s authors have pledged to make, the president’s veto still looms over their work. 

However, internet activists opposed to CISPA were skeptical that the administration's pledge to veto the bill would hold once the legislation reached the Oval Office.

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Activists cited Obama’s previous, unfulfilled pledges to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and close the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility to highlight what they see as a history of broken promises.

“Dear Obama: Your rhetoric on NDAA, Gitmo & Wall Street proved empty & false. We'll believe a #CISPA veto when we see it. Love, the Internet,” read a tweet by YourAnonNews, the Twitter press arm of the Anonymous collective.