Last year we called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 3523 in the 112th Congress, “terrible on transparency,” because of a provision that would exempt a broad and poorly defined swath of information from the Freedom of Information Act.
CISPA is back in the 113th Congress and not much has changed. According to OpenTheGovernment.org, the bill still contains language that would exempt all “cybersecurity threat information” shared under the act from the FOIA. This is a dangerous and unnecessary precedent to set. As we noted last year, implementing a broad exception for poorly defined information without a public hearing “is irresponsible and should be opposed.”
The Congressional debate over CISPA is currently taking place behind the closed doors of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Chairman Mike Rogers has announced his committee’s intent to mark up and vote on CISPA this month and a committee spokesperson has suggested that it will meet behind closed doors next week to consider the bill. The committee does not appear to be planning any public hearing or vote.
Along with 40 other groups, Sunlight has signed a letter urging the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to hold any markup of CISPA in the open.
The committee should consider CISPA in the light of day. CISPA has the potential to affect the lives of every American and has drawn criticism from numerous privacy groups as well as the White House. Legislation this critical, and with this much potential to hinder the public’s ability to hold their government accountable, deserves to be debated in full public view, not hidden behind closed doors.
You can follow CISPA using Scout, Sunlight’s legislative tracking tool.