Anjali Dalal: CISPA: Steamrolling Civil Liberties
After a flurry of last minute amendments last week, the House unexpectedly passed CISPA on Thursday evening. A week ago, I described my concerns with the version of the bill that made it out of the House Committee on Intelligence. In the intervening week, there was a considerable outcry around the bill, led in part by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Democracy and Technology. Learning their lesson from SOPA, the House decided to invite civil liberties constituencies to the table so as to avoid having to witness another implosion of a major legislative goal. As a result, a number of amendments were introduced that began to address some of the most egregious parts of the bill, and, in response, some members of the civil liberties community decided to withhold further, vocal opposition. Then, on Thursday evening, it all fell apart. As Josh Smith at the National Journal described, the CISPA that was passed by the House on Thursday didn't reflect this negotiation: The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Constitution Project never really dropped objections to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, but after discussions with the bill's sponsors, the groups said on April 24 they would not actively oppose the bill and focus on amendments instead. But on April 25, the House Rules Committee shot down 22 of 43 submitted amendments to the bill, known as CISPA. All but one Republican amendments were made in order, while four out of 19 Democratic amendments and four with 10 bipartisan support made the cut. Five amendments were withdrawn. Unhappy with this outcome, the civil liberties groups are doubling down their efforts for the next stage of this battle.