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Thank You Mr. President – In Big Win for Privacy, Administration Issues CISPA Veto Threat!

Robyn Greene,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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April 17, 2013

Over the last few months, more than 50,000 ACLU supporters signed our petition to the president urging him to veto CISPA if it made it to his desk. Not only did the president hear your calls – yesterday, he answered them with a resounding win for your privacy and civil liberties and threatened to veto CISPA, the dangerous privacy-busting cybersecurity bill.

The president’s veto threat echoed many of our concerns, and those that he raised last year when he threatened to veto CISPA 1.0. We have long warned that CISPA threatens Americans’ privacy and civil liberties by allowing for companies to share our private information, like our internet records and the content of our emails, with the government. Yesterday’s veto threat makes it clear that in spite of recent amendments, CISPA still fails to adequately protect our privacy. As the veto threat states:

…the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable…for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.

President Obama also addressed our concerns that CISPA would allow for the militarization of the internet by allowing domestic cyber threat information to be shared with the NSA or other agencies in the Department of Defense. The veto threat was unequivocal that the internet is a civilian space, stating that:

The Administration supports the longstanding tradition to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres…[and] newly authorized information sharing for cybersecurity purposes from the private sector to the government should enter the government through a civilian agency.

While we are thrilled that the president has threatened to veto CISPA if it reaches his desk, the fight isn’t over yet. The House is expected to vote on CISPA as early as today. We wrote the House and joined a coalition of 34 groups urging a “No” vote on CISPA, but every member of Congress should also hear from their constituents that they should vote for privacy, and vote “NO” on H.R. 624.

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