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Ellison Votes Against CISPA

The 5th District congressman worries that the ‘Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act’ could infringe on people’s right to privacy.

Rep. Keith Ellison was among the 127 representatives who voted against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that the House passed Thursday.

The bill aims to make it easier for the government and private sector to share information on cyber threats, but critics like the 5th District congressman worry that it infringes on privacy

The bill received support from 92 Democrats, but Ellison said it didn’t provide sufficient protection for individuals.

He released the following statement:

The threat of cyber-attack is real. As we have seen repeatedly, both public and private networks are under constant threat, and Congress has a responsibility to address these threats.

However, CISPA in its current form would violate Americans’ fundamental right to privacy. I join the White House and Members of the House Intelligence Committee in opposing the legislation.

First, CISPA would allow private companies to share personally identifiable information with the government without appropriate safeguards. It would not require the government to remove identifiable information until after personal information has been shared with federal agencies. We should not be providing personal information to government agencies when private companies can protect the privacy of users themselves. The bill does even less to protect someone’s identity in the case of sharing between two private companies.

Second, the bill would allow people’s personal identities to be shared with the military through the National Security Agency, violating the long-standing principle of keeping military and intelligence agencies out of domestic civilian surveillance. Even in the wake of September 11th, Congress protected the internet from surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Third, the bill gives excessive legal immunity to private firms for any ‘decisions made’ in response to a cyber threat. This could not only lead to violations of privacy, but potential retribution against competing companies.

All of these concerns were offered as amendments, but many were not even allowed a vote. It’s time for Washington to listen to the millions of Americans who oppose their privacy being sacrificed, and develop a balanced bill to protect us from cyber attacks.

The bill will now go before the Senate.

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