CISPA Goes to The Floor for a Vote, Privacy Amendments Blocked
By Kurt Opsahl and Rainey Reitman and Mark Jaycox /

Yesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.

In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. 

The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday. This means there’s little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:

Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative

Here are some of the takeaways from the hearing.

Rep. Rogers Dismisses CISPA Opponents as Teenage Basement Tweeters

After a heated exchange about the overly broad legal immunity, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) noted the widespread opposition to CISPA by Internet users. In response, Rep. Rogers characterized opponents to CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. See the video here.

CISPA is still riddled with problems and must be stopped.

Of course, many people oppose CISPA -- several thousand of whom tweeted at Rogers after his remark.

Internet companies like Mozilla, Reddit, NameCheap,, and other have also come out strong against the bill. And over 70 cybersecurity experts and academics sent a joint letter opposing CISPA last year, expressing their firm opposition to the dangers of Roger’s approach to computer security:

We have devoted our careers to building security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes. We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong computer and network security does not require Internet users to sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties.

Earlier this week, 34 civil liberties groups sent a letter opposing CISPA in its current form.

And the newest addition to CISPA opposition? The White House, which issued a veto threat (PDF) yesterday.

Rep. Rogers Makes The Case For Why Representatives Should Vote No

Rep. Rogers is adamant that no sensitive personal information or email content will be collected under the bill and then sent to the federal government. Under questioning from Rep. Polis, Rogers said "Again, zeroes and ones, hundreds of millions of times a second, in patterns. It has nothing to do with content. Nothing."

First of all, of course it's zeros and ones. That's how information is passed in the digital environment--whether it is content or not. If Rogers is going to propose fundamentally changing privacy on the Internet, he ought to know that the contents of email are transferred with zeros and ones in patterns.

Second, if Rogers really meant this, there is an easy solution. Exclude the content of communications from the bill. Voila! Companies would not be able to transfer the content of anyone’s email under the bill, whether in the form of zeros and ones, or by carrier pigeon

Reducing Confidence in the Internet

Rep. Polis spoke candidly during the hearing about some of the detrimental effects CISPA could have on Internet users’ trust in online services:

This directly hurts the confidence of Internet users. Internet users - if this were to become law - would be much more hesitant to provide their personal information -even if assured under the terms of use that it will be kept personal because the company would be completely indemnified if they 'voluntarily' gave it to the United States government.

Rep. Rogers was not convinced, asserting this would not be a problem. He’s wrong. CISPA gives legal immunity to companies who share your information under the bill, with no exception for privacy policies or user agreements that promise to protect your privacy.  Even worse, core privacy laws like the Privacy Act, Cable Communications Policy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act will be decimated by CISPA, robbed of their power to protect you when it comes to this so-called cybersecurity sharing.

One amendment that could have helped to address this concern was a proposal by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) which would have made clear that a company can still make a legally-enforceable commitment to users via a contract (such as terms of use) that it will not share personally identifiable information with the federal government.

However, this amendment was not allowed to proceed to the floor for a vote.

Privacy Amendments Aren't Allowed to Proceed For A Full House Vote

The hearing ended with the decision on which amendments would be allowed for consideration during the floor vote.  In all, 42 amendments were submitted to CISPA - the majority of which dealt with privacy and civil liberties problems with the bill. Only 12 were allowed to go to the floor for a full vote.

Among the amendments that will not move forward are forward-thinking proposals by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), both of whom suggested amendments that would address some of the core privacy concerns in CISPA. The first (PDF), championed by Rep. Schakowsky, would requires that the first point of sharing information with the federal government must be with a civilian agency, so that U.S. military or defense agencies won’t directly collect or receive cyber information on American citizens.

Another amendment (PDF) promoted by Rep Schiff, requires companies sharing information with the government or other private entities under the bill make “reasonable efforts” to remove personally identifiable information of individuals unrelated to the cyber threat.

At first the chairmen didn’t even allow a vote on whether or not these amendments could be presented to the full house for a vote. A vote on the amendments was held by the committee only after Democrats raised the issue.

Unfortunately, both amendments were ruled out of order - along with many others that would have addressed civil liberties issues.  This means that fixing the bill through floor amendments --which was always unlikely--is now clearly impossible. EFF is urging Representatives to oppose the bill in the upcoming vote.


CISPA will likely be up for a vote in the next 24 hours. CISPA is still riddled with problems and must be stopped. Tell your Congressmen now to say no to CISPA.

Kurt Opsahl

Kurt Opsahl is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation focusing on civil liberties, free speech and privacy law.



Rainey Reitman

Rainey Reitman leads the activism team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.





Mark Jaycox

Mark Jaycox is a Policy Analyst and Legislative Assistant for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His issues include user privacy, civil liberties, EULAs, and current legislation or policy rising out of Washington, DC


3.7 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 11,205 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 10,075 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 5,245 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 4,329 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,270 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 1,952 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 1,790 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,669 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 1,393 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,350 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · 1,307 views today · Political power -- armed central authority, with states and war -- is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 1,178 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 936 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 752 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 750 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Lessons in the Calais Jungle: Teaching Life Stories and Learning About Humanity
Aura Lounasmaa · 671 views today · I am part of a team of academics teaching a course to residents in the Calais Jungle, a camp for migrants and refugees outside the French city. Life Stories in the Jungle has...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 391 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 374 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 346 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Untold History of Palestine & Israel
22 min · 345 views today · Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, The Empire Files looks at the long history of Zionist colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
CISPA Goes to The Floor for a Vote, Privacy Amendments Blocked