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House Committee Jurisdiction and CISPA

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Last year, the House Intelligence Committee passed out a bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that eventually was adopted with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.  The bill drew a veto threat from President Obama and was never seriously considered in the Senate.

Undaunted, the sponsors of CISPA, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger, have reintroduced CISPA.  Many in the privacy community are opposed to the bill on the ground that the information sharing it authorizes will challenge privacy expectations.  The twitter hash tag for the opposition is #CISPA Kills Privacy, which while melodramatic certainly conveys the sense of the matter.  Notwithstanding the opposition it is reported that the House and the Administration are in talks and that they are close to an agreement.   As I’ve said before, that’s a good thing — we need better cyber threat information sharing.

But perhaps it won’t happen so readily after all.  Today comes word that the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee has objected to CISPA.  In a letter to Chairman McCaul, Ranking Member Thompson has argued that CISPA addresses matters within that Committee’s jurisdiction and that it ought to be referred the House Homeland Committee for consideration.  Thompson urges McCaul to protest the failure to make a referral.

As Thompson notes, CISPA would authorize DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to serve as the focal point for cyber threat and vulnerability.  The argument is that authorizing a DHS function ought to be a House Homeland perogative — and it certainly has some force.  Whatever the merits, however, this intervention is likely to cause at least some bump in the road to CISPA passage.

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