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U.S. House endangers digital freedom by passing CISPA for the second year in a row

Ignoring a veto threat from President Barack Obama, the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to pass Republican Congressman Mike Rogers’ Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, for the second year in a row. The vote on final passage, which happened this morning, was two hundred and eighty-eight to one hundred and twenty-eight.

Ostensibly, CISPA is intended to help bolster Internet security in the United States and make it easier for the U.S. government and major corporations to share information about cyber threats. In reality, CISPA is a threat to our digital freedom and civil liberties, and gives the government more spying powers.

CISPA did not make it out of the U.S. Senate after passing the House last year, which is why it was reintroduced in the House this year. The 2013 incarnation of the bill has followed a similar trajectory to the 2012 incarnation. It was shepherded through committee by Mike Rogers, amended slightly, and then approved on the House floor despite a veto threat from the White House.

The vote for and against the bill was bipartisan, but most no votes came from Democrats and most yes votes came from Republicans.

The roll call for the Pacific Northwest was as follows:

Voting Aye: Democrats Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck (WA), Kurt Schrader (OR); Republicans Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Mike Simpson (ID), Don Young (AK), Steve Daines (MT)

Voting Nay: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Jim McDermott (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Pete DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer (OR); Republicans Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA) and Raúl Labrador (ID)

Two days ago, we asked our region’s U.S. Representatives to vote against this latest incarnation of CISPA. Most did not, but we are very grateful to those who did, particularly Suzan DelBene, who represents NPI’s home district.

DelBene said in a statement sent to NPI shortly after the vote that CISPA 2013 was simply too flawed to earn her support.

“While I support the goals of this legislation, the CISPA bill voted on by the House today unfortunately does not offer necessary protections to safeguard Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights,” she said.

“I commend the good faith, bipartisan effort by my colleagues to draft effective legislation, but today’s bill still falls short. While the bill voted on today is an improvement from last year’s version, it ultimately fails to adequately protect civil liberties. It grants immunity to corporations that don’t protect the personal information of customers that they freely share with the federal government.”

“This bill doesn’t do enough to prevent personally identifiable information or the private communications of individuals from being collected by federal agencies. This is inconsistent with our nation’s values regarding individual privacy.”

We strongly concur and we thank Representatives DelBene as well as Representative McDermott for casting an informed and courageous vote. We also extend our thanks to Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Raúl Labrador for their no votes. They were the only Republicans from our region to vote no.

Three of Oregon’s four Democrats also voted no.

We are very disappointed in our region’s other Democrats for their aye votes. CISPA is fatally flawed legislation that lacks robust privacy and civil liberties safeguards. It is not well drafted. That is why we are strongly opposed to it and it is why President Obama has threatened a veto, both last year and this year.

Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Denny Heck, and Derek Kilmer should have followed the lead of Representatives DelBene and McDermott and voted no on CISPA 2013.

We will be in contact with each of them to express our disappointment in their votes over the next few days. We now urge our region’s U.S. Senators, especially Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Ron Wyden, and Jeff Merkley, to put a stop to CISPA in the U.S. Senate so this poorly written legislation never gets out of Congress.

2 Comments

  1. Todd Williams
    Posted April 22nd, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    I believe Senator Cantwell is voting against CISPA. Would you like to see her email to me?

    Senator Murray’s office said no public comment made yet.

    Have people call her!!

    Todd

  2. Desiree White
    Posted May 8th, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    Good to hear, Todd.