OVERNIGHT TECH: House weighs changes to cybersecurity bill after veto threat

THE LEAD: The House Rules Committee is expected to decide Wednesday night which amendments the full House will vote on when it takes up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) later this week.

The White House issued a formal veto threat against the bill on Wednesday, saying the measure would fail to protect critical infrastructure systems and would undermine Internet privacy.

{mosads}CISPA would tear down legal barriers that discourage companies from sharing information about cyber threats.

The White House said it supports increasing information-sharing but that CISPA lacks adequate protections for users’ personal information.

The Rules Committee will consider a host of possible changes, including three amendments from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, that would bulk up the bill’s privacy protections and aim to protect critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids and chemical plants, from cyberattacks.

An amendment from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) would address many of the White House’s privacy concerns, such as the use of personally identifiable information and which agencies have access to the data.

{mosads}The Rules Committee is expected to move amendments backed by the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), that would tweak the bill’s privacy protections. Their amendments would narrow the bill’s definition of “cyber threat information” and would tighten limitations on how the government could use the information it collects. 

The lawmakers announced the changes in response to criticism from privacy groups, but the concessions were apparently not enough to win over the White House.

The Rules Committee will likely only approve a few of the amendments for consideration by the full House.

CISPA sponsors downplay veto threat: CISPA sponsors Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) downplayed the White House veto threat in a joint statement:

“The basis for the Administration’s view is mostly based on the lack of critical infrastructure regulation, something outside of our jurisdiction.  We would also draw the White House’s attention to the substantial package of privacy and civil liberties improvement announced yesterday which will be added to the bill on the floor. The [statement of administration policy] was limited to the bill in “its current form” — however, as the bipartisan managers of the bill announced yesterday — they have agreed to a package of amendments that address nearly every single one of the criticisms leveled by the Administration, particularly those regarding privacy and civil liberties of Americans. Congress must lead on this critical issue and we hope the White House will join us.”

Verizon urges FCC not to stop review: Verizon and the SpectrumCo consortium of cable companies seeking to sell wireless broadband spectrum sent a letter Wednesday to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responding to criticism by the Communication Workers of America and a number of public-interest groups and small telecom companies who claimed they had not disclosed information mandated by the FCC in an accessible manner. The companies urged the agency to continue moving forward with its review of the deal.

“CWA’s allegations are meritless and provide no grounds for delaying the Commission’s completion of its review of the transactions,” the companies wrote.


The FCC announced $300 million in funding for its Connect America Fund.

Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested he could soon lift holds on two FCC nominees.

The FCC approved AT&T’s breakup fee with T-Mobile.

The House passed the DATA Act to create a database of federal spending.

GOP lawmakers criticized the FCC’s proposed political ad rule

The House formed a working group to study the government’s use of spectrum

—Andrew Feinberg contributed.

Tags Adam Schiff Chuck Grassley

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