President Obama has vowed to veto CISPA

Despite drawing accusations of being something pulled right out of the book 1984, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was passed by Congress last week and is on its way to Senate approval. HR 3523 gives the US Government some broad new powers for examining activities on the Internet without a warrant.

Before examining the details of the bill, it’s important to note that Senate approval of HR 3523 in its current form is by no means assured. On top of that, the Obama administration has vowed to veto the bill if it does indeed pass into law.

What CISPA Means

CISPA’s main goal is making it easier for the US government to retrieve data from private businesses like Facebook without a warrant. To achieve that end, it allows private companies to share any information that could be considered cyber threat information with government entities.

The definition of what constitutes a threat was expanded greatly at the last moment thanks to an amendment from Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ). Quayle’s amendment includes provisions for warrant-less data gathering in order to:

  • Protect against bodily harm or death.
  • “Related law enforcement needs.”
  • The protection of children.
  • The protection of the national security of the United States.

To say that gives law enforcement some leverage is a bit of an understatement. But CISPA may not be, quite, as bad as it sounds.

Learn more about the US Government’s power here.

Bright Spots

In its current form, HR 3523 does give companies a few options for protecting user data. Under the terms of CISPA, companies opt strip personal identities from data before providing it to the government. Businesses are further protected from legal action by users who may have been mistakenly deemed a threat.

Of course, whether or not businesses choose to exercise these options is another matter entirely. Google, for example, came under fire back in 2010 for complying with censorship requests from the Chinese government. Google has since backed away from some of those actions, but how they’ll react to requests from the US Government is unknown.


Given the activism surround SOPA last year, it’s surprising that CISPA has flown under the radar this long. CISPA is a vaguely worded bill that gives government entities wide leverage in deciding what constitutes a threat and when they can do an end run around existing privacy protections.

Affiliates should keep an eye on this one and hope that Obama does indeed exercise his veto powers, should it pass the Senate.

What do you think of CISPA? Let us know on our Online Gambling Laws & Regulations Forum.  

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