OVERNIGHT TECH: Conservative groups slam House cybersecurity bill

The goal of CISPA is to help companies beef up their defenses against hackers who steal business secrets, rob customers' financial information and wreak havoc on computer systems. The measure would tear down legal barriers that discourage companies from sharing information about cyber threats.

But the conservative groups slammed CISPA for using a broad definition for "cyber threat information" and for a sweeping immunity provision for companies that hand over information to the government.

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The groups warned that the bill would prevent companies from assuring customers that they could protect their private data. The letter explained that the bill would allow third parties, such as data storage companies, to share information with the government even if they had signed a contract with other companies to secure the data.  

The conservative groups also criticized CISPA for allowing the government to use the information for purposes other than addressing cybersecurity threats and for not including tougher oversight requirements for how the government handles the data it collects.

Although the bill allows only for voluntary information sharing, the groups said the bill should be amended to ban government agencies from pressuring companies to share information.

"If CISPA is not revised to reflect our concerns, however, it may have serious unintended consequences for America’s vibrant technology sector — and for our constitutional rights. Therefore, we urge CISPA’s sponsors to consider these recommendations before sending the bill to the House floor," the groups wrote.

The House is set to vote on the bill this week.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) also criticized CISPA in an op-ed in The Hill, comparing it to the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Consumer groups urge Senate to probe data caps in hearing: Four consumer groups urged lawmakers to use Tuesday's hearing on the future of online video to closely examine caps on mobile data usage.

Major wireless carriers say caps on data usage are necessary to prevent the heaviest users from clogging their networks.

But in a letter to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the consumers groups said, "It is widely accepted amongst analysts and network engineers that congestion on current wired networks is virtually non-existent, and that in any event monthly caps are a very crude instrument for dealing with congestion."

The letter was signed by Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Consumers Union and the New America Foundation.

The groups said the data caps discourage people from using high-bandwidth applications, such as online video.

"If data caps had a legitimate economic justification, they might be just a necessary annoyance. But they do not have such a justification," the groups claimed.

CTIA, which represents the wireless carriers, warned that banning data caps would reduce investment in the wireless industry. 

"This is a perfect example of how groups like Free Press operate under the flawed view that networks should be free, ignoring that they are actually built and maintained through significant and ongoing investments by wireless and other broadband providers. They also pay little attention to the need to ensure that the data-consumption patterns of a few do not impact the ability for the other users to have a high-quality broadband experience," Jot Carpenter, CTIA's vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

Facebook passes 900 million users: Facebook has passed 900 million worldwide users, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. The company said 188 million of those users are in the United States and Canada.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The White House pushed for privacy safeguards in cybersecurity legislation.

Google more than tripled its lobbying spending in the first quarter of 2012.

Facebook bought patents from Microsoft for $550 million.

Netflix hired a new firm to lobby Congress to amend a video privacy law.

President Obama signed an order to impose sanctions on companies that provide technology to help the Syrian and Iranian governments carry out human-rights abuses.