The White House's Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday announced that President Barack Obama would veto the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), unless important changes were made to the controversial cyber security bill.
"The Administration is committed to increasing public-private sharing of information about cybersecurity threats as an essential part of comprehensive legislation to protect the Nation’s vital information systems and critical infrastructure," the White House said in an email. "The sharing of information must be conducted in a manner that preserves Americans’ privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace."
The bill proposes an "cybersecurity threat information" sharing scheme in which Internet companies, such as Internet service providers and social networking sites, would pass private communications to the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS and the National Security Agency without an judicial oversight.
CISPA currently enjoys a broad base of support among Internet companies, including Google and Facebook. The bill is expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives later this week despite strong opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Constitution Project, Fight for the Future and others.
"The American people expect their Government to enhance security without undermining their privacy and civil liberties," the White House said. "Without clear legal protections and independent oversight, information sharing legislation will undermine the public's trust in the Government as well as in the Internet by undermining fundamental privacy, confidentiality, civil liberties, and consumer protections."
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), the bill's sponsors, brushed aside the veto threat. They said that the White House's privacy and civil liberties concerns had already been dealt with.
"The bipartisan managers of the bill... 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," they said in a statement.
With prior reporting by Stephen C. Webster