April 20, 2012, 7:00 AM — A coalition of leading technology industry groups is calling on lawmakers to pass a controversial cybersecurity bill, offering a broad show of support as the measure heads to the House floor for debate next week.
The groups, including the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), delivered a letter to House leaders calling for passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, a bill that would provide a framework for sharing information about cybersecurity threats among government and private-sector entities.
"Our associations believe that targeted congressional action that both preserves and promotes innovation can contribute to a more resilient global digital infrastructure," the groups wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (D-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "Cybersecurity is best realized through effective partnerships between the public and private sectors, as the interests of government and industry are fundamentally aligned on this issue."
In addition to their support of CISPA, the groups are also calling on House lawmakers to pass targeted bills that would strengthen the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the certification standard for government IT systems, and to improve cybersecurity research and development.
The organizations' advocacy for CISPA comes as several privacy and civil liberties groups have been working to gin up opposition to the bill, warning that the measure could lead to businesses sending troves of personal information about their users to secretive government arms like the National Security Agency with strong liability protections and minimal accountability.
The authors of the legislation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member on the panel, have acknowledged those concerns and earlier this week released a revised version of the bill they intend to offer as a substitute amendment.
The revisions include a provision to give the Department of Homeland Security access to much of the information being shared, meant to provide a civilian check on the activities of the NSA and other military agencies, and the removal of the term "intellectual property" from all definitions in the bill. Critics had warned that the original definitions were overly broad, inviting the possibility of using the statute to crack down on suspected copyright violations under the guise of cybersecurity.