That immunity, and the violation of privacy that it would allow, is one of the primary reasons that President Obama opposes the bill, with the Office of Management and Budget spelling it out in their veto threat: the bill "inappropriately shields companies from any suits where a company's actions are based on cyber threat information identified, obtained, or shared under this bill, regardless of whether that action otherwise violated Federal criminal law or results in damage or loss of life."
Despite the relatively rare veto threat, and despite the unprecedented sweep of the bill, traditional media has barely registered its existence, writes The Nation's Ari Melber.
Obama has not publicly explained why civil liberties concerns played such a strong role in his position on this bill, especially in contrast to telecom immunity, let alone his policies on assassination and drone attacks. The president has not been asked, either, which may provide one clue to the politics at play.There's a way to change that, and a way to help hold President Obama to his promise to veto this bill on civil liberties grounds. Make it an issue. Make people pay attention. Granted, that's a challenging proposition, given a traditional media consumed by the personalities and not the issues in this election (as usual). It's made doubly hard by the fact that it's a technology issue, which automatically makes it too complex for most traditional media reporters to want to think about, much less start asking questions.
Even after passing the House, the White House press pool has never asked a single question about CISPA at the daily press briefing, let alone in discussion with the president or senior officials. Out of all public transcripts and statements, there is only a single CISPA reference on the White House website, from the administration’s proactive policy announcement. (There are over seventy references to “long form birth certificate,” to compare another topic.) In standoffs between civil liberties and national security claims, sometimes it’s easiest to do the right thing when no one is paying attention.
We faced that problem in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act, too. And how it was surmounted then was by getting Google involved. When Google went black, it made news, because Google is big enough to make news. Right now, Google won't give a public position on the bill, though they quietly lobbied, for something, in the House. They've got very good reason to oppose this bill: they've got more to lose than almost any other company because of the millions of users who use Google services to store their information. What happens when all those customers realize the information they put into the cloud could go straight to the National Security Agency, or any other government agency, with none of their identifying information stripped out? Google isn't going to look so good for not protecting their customers.
It's in Google's best interest not to be evil on this one, and to join the opposition. Let's see if we can get them to do it.