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Lobby group representing Google, Yahoo backs CISPA

Published time: April 12, 2013 23:03
AFP Photo / Daniel Mihailescu

AFP Photo / Daniel Mihailescu

A lobbying organization that counts Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and other tech giants among its clients has lent support to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which is lined up for a vote in the US House of Representatives next week.

Rey Ramsey, the CEO of TechNet, sent a letter to Representatives Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger praising the controversial cyber-security bill - which both the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have criticized for failing to protect online privacy. The civil liberties groups assert that recent CISPA amendments haven't given enough power to oversight committees that would prevent major companies from sharing an Internet user's personal information with legal impunity.

"This bill recgonizes the need for effective cyber-security legislation that encourages voluntary, bi-directional, real time sharing of actionable cyber threat information to protect networks," Ramsey wrote in the letter Wednesday. "We commend the committee for providing liability protections to companies participating in voluntary information-sharing and applaud the committee's efforts to work with a wide range of stakeholders to address issues such as strengthening privacy protections

"As the legislative process unfolds, we look forward to continuing the dialogue with you and your colleagues on further privacy protections, including discussions on the role of a civilian interface for information sharing." 

Morgan Stanley, Intel, Cisco Systems, NASDAQ and other companies from a wide range of industries also fall under TechNet's umbrella. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Oracle President Safra Catz are just a few of the newsmakers who sit on TechNet's executive council, according to The Hill. Facebook was initially a backer of the bill but, perhaps because of the bad publicity, representatives for the social networking site renounced their support in March 2013. 

In an attempt to address the widespread privacy concerns the House Intelligence Committee met for a closed-door session Wednesday. Led by Rogers and Ruppersburger, the lawmakers voted 18-2 to amend the law - but the provisions were not enough to sway the ACLU or EFF. A representative for the latter said the changes fail to "tackle the core concerns" voiced by the over 30,000 companies that have petitioned against the measure.