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CISPA 'dead' in Senate, privacy concerns cited


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The chairman of a key Senate committee cited "insufficient" privacy protections in the cybersecurity bill, recently passed by the House. A new report says the Senate is drafting separate bills.

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CISPA's passing will lead to a second round of debate and amendments in the U.S. Senate, which a year ago the same Bill stalled in favor of the upper house's own draft of cybersecurity legislation.

The Senate will almost certainly kill a controversial cybersecurity bill, recently passed by the House, according to a U.S. Senate Committee member.

The comments were first reported by U.S. News on Thursday.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-NY), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement on April 18 that CISPA's privacy protections are "insufficient."

A committee aide told ZDNet on Thursday that Rockefeller believes the Senate will not take up CISPA. The White House has also said the President won't sign the House bill.

Staff and senators are understood to be "drafting separate bills" that will maintain the cybersecurity information sharing while preserving civil liberties and privacy rights.

Rockefeller's comments are significant as he takes up the lead on the Commerce Committee, which will be the first branch of the Senate that will debate its own cybersecurity legislation.

Michelle Richardson, legislative council with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the publication she thinks CISPA is "dead for now," and said the Senate will "probably pick up where it left off last year."

The Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act, commonly known as CISPA, permits private sector companies — including technology firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft, among others — to pass "cyber threat" data, including personal user data, to the U.S. government.

This means a company like Facebook, Twitter, Google, or any other technology or telecoms company, including your cell service provider, would be legally able to hand over vast amounts of data to the U.S. government and its law enforcement — for whatever purpose it deems necessary — and face no legal reprisals.

Civil liberties groups have called CISPA a "privacy killer" and "dangerously vague," and warned that it may be in breach of the Fourth Amendment.

After CISPA passed the House the first time last year, the Senate shelved the bill in favor of its own cybersecurity legislation. Following today's statements, the Senate is edging closer to repeating its actions for a second time.

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