Ruppersberger: House Intelligence Committee to re-introduce CISPA this year

So far, the Maryland Democrat said the discussions with the White House have been positive and “working pretty well.”

CISPA aimed to thwart cyberattacks by making it easier for private companies to share information about cyberthreats and malicious source code with the intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill enjoyed support from a broad swath of companies, including Facebook and AT&T, because they said legal hurdles slowed down information sharing about cyber threats between industry and government.

Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates launched online protests against the bill because they argued that it lacked sufficient privacy protections and would increase the pool of people’s electronic communications flowing to the intelligence community and the secretive National Security Agency (NSA). The White House shared similar concerns about the privacy protections in the bill and whether it would protect people’s personal information when companies share cyber threat data with the government.

Rogers and Ruppersberger argued that CISPA had sufficient privacy protections and even modified the bill to address some of the concerns from privacy advocates, who ultimately were not won over by the changes.

Despite the outcry from privacy advocates, the bill cleared the House last spring. It went untouched by the Senate, which was working on its own comprehensive cybersecurity measure at the time.

Ruppersberger said the committee is in the process of educating its new members on the importance of cybersecurity and the threat facing the U.S.

The committee held a briefing for its members on Tuesday with Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and director of NSA, on the issue. 

Ruppersberger said it’s “positive” that White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan was appointed to head up the CIA because he has worked on cybersecurity policy and with the committee “to an extent” on the issue.

The Senate also plans to revive its work on cybersecurity legislation this year. Last month Rockefeller and a group of leading Senate Democrats said enacting legislation would be a priority this year and introduced a resolution stating that cyberattacks are one of the most serious threats facing the U.S.

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