Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said Tuesday that most opponents to his controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) are teenagers in their basements as the Obama administration threatened to veto the measure for its potential to violate civil liberties.
"People on the Internet -- if you're, you know, a 14-year-old tweeter in your basement … I took my nephew, I had to work with him a lot on this bill because he didn't understand the mechanics of it," Rogers continued. "I hear that a lot. Once you understand the threat and you understand the mechanics of how it works and you understand that people are not monitoring your content of your emails, most people go, 'got it.'"
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, reflected concerns shared by the White House and many civil liberties groups, arguing that the bill did not do enough to ensure that companies, in sharing cyber threat data with the government and each other, strip out any personal data of private citizens.
"They can just ship the whole kit and caboodle and we're saying minimize what is relevant to our national security," the Democrat said. "The rest is none of the government's business."
Rogers stressed that his bill doesn’t extend any extra surveillance powers to the federal government, despite condemnation from critics that say exactly that. “It does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector,” he said. Rather, he called it "a critical bipartisan first step for enabling American’s private sector to defend itself" and "improves cybersecurity without compromising our civil liberties."
“We have yet to find a single United States company that opposes this bill,” said Rep. Rogers.
But companies do in fact oppose CISPA. Facebook rescinded their support of the act, according to Cnet’s Declan McCullagh, because a spokesperson for the social media site says they prefer a legislative "balance" that ensures "the privacy of our users.” Facebook made the decision to rescind their support for the legislation after facing pressure from Demand Progress, the Internet freedom advocacy group founded by Aaron Swartz.