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White House threatens veto of cybersecurity bill

anti-sopa cispa protests.jpg

Jan. 18, 2012: A blackout landing page is displayed on a laptop computer screen to protest the SOPA legislation -- which some argue is returning under a new name. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The Obama administration on Wednesday threatened to veto a controversial cybersecurity bill slated to hit the House floor this week.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, intends to defend US industries and corporate networks against the threat of cyberattacks.

But critics, and now the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), say it encroaches on civil liberties by allowing internet companies to share information about what their customers do online with the IRS, Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.


WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT? The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA, or HR 3523) is intended to regulate the flow of information online and make it easier for the government to communicate with companies in the event of a cyber threat.

But some ndustry groups say the wording is far too vague -- and a real threat to online privacy.

"Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive," the OMB said in an argument against the bill. "Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation's core critical infrastructure from cyber threats."

The administration instead supports a bill in the Senate written by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), which would give the Department of Homeland Security authority to set new cybersecurity standards.

After mounting public outcry and internet petitions, representatives submitted a flurry of amendments to the House bill this week -- some called for a provision to ban the monitoring of protesters and others pushed for a clause to force Homeland Security to destroy personally identifiable data after a year, according to tech news site CNET.

But none of the amendments addressed the most controversial section of the bill, which says companies may share information with government agencies "notwithstanding any other provision of law."

CISPA is sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). House leaders expect the bill to pass in a vote Friday.