TECH
04/16/2013 05:18 pm ET

White House Threatens CISPA Veto, Says Revised Cybersecurity Bill Doesn't Adequately Protect Privacy, Civil Liberties

AP

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a controversial cybersecurity bill out of concern that it fails to protect the privacy of Internet users.

Reintroduced in February after failing to pass Congress last year, CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, would give businesses and the federal government legal protection to share data on cyber threats with each other to enhance the nation's cybersecurity. The bill comes at a time of increased concern over hacking threats at home and from China.

Earlier this month, the bill's authors Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) adopted several amendments aimed at assuaging the concerns of privacy and civil liberties groups who say CISPA's definition of what data can be shared with the government is overly broad and fails to prevent Internet users' data from being used by spy agencies.

But the White House said Tuesday the amendments did not go far enough and the president would not sign the bill as it is currently written.

The current bill "does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities," the White House said in a statement.

"We have long said that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include proper privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the appropriate roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections," the statement said.

"CISPA as reported still does not address these fundamental priorities adequately," the administration said.

The White House issued a similar veto threat against CISPA last year, but the bill never reached the president's desk. Since then, national concern about cybersecurity has intensified following several high-profile attacks linked to China and members of the hacking group Anonymous.

Many experts have warned that Congress needs to pass a cybersecurity bill because the nation's most vital computer systems are increasingly vulnerable to a cyberattack that could lead to severe economic loss, sustained blackouts or mass casualties. Top intelligence officials now say hackers pose a greater national security threat than terrorists.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Wednesday.

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