Kudos, again, to U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr., who last month continued to show his independence and wisdom by voting in the House against H.R. 624, the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act.
CISPA would allow private companies to share vast amounts of data with the federal government in order to share information on cyber attacks. While protecting against cyber attacks is a worthy and necessary goal, CISPA goes way too far and imperils rights that all Americans have to reasonable privacy while seeking and using information that has become essential to modern life.
The House passed the bill with a vote of 288-127, and it apparently has died, for now, in the Senate, where leaders decided it wouldn’t get a vote, in part because President Obama had promised to veto it unless major changes were made.
Before the Senate path of non-action was chosen, however, Jones, in the minority position in the house, made critical points.
“While it is important for us as a nation to defend ourselves in the digital world, H.R. 624 is not the best means to do so,” he said in a statement after the vote. “This legislation is just another example of the federal government going too far and it is a clear violation of privacy.”
Under CISPA, private emails and a user’s Internet browser history could be sent to the federal government. Users would have no way of knowing whether or not their information has been shared, as the information provided under CISPA would not be available through the Freedom of Information Act. Conservative groups like FreedomWorks, Competitive Enterprise Institute and The Constitution Project all strongly oppose this legislation.
In a rare – for these days – instance of cross-philosophy agreement – many liberals and their organizations also opposed the legislation as a step way too far.
Jones is a conservative on most issues. But on CISPA, a law that should, and does, alarm Americans on both ends of the political spectrum, he’s neither conservative nor liberal, just correct.
Rest assured, however, that CISPA will be back in some form, because we do need to improve cyber security. When it does come back, we hope that Jones will be among the lawmakers who will work with experts on both sides of the issue to craft a way to give the government the tools it needs without compromising even more of Americans’ privacy.