The single biggest criticism of CISPA is that it could be used by the federal government in a way that infringes on people's privacy, allowing government agencies, including the NSA, to sift through the private data of American citizens with little to no oversight. It's pretty obvious why that fear exists — just look at the relevant paragraph in what, until the recent and final round of markup, was the text of the bill:
(7) PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUAL INFORMATION—The Federal Government may, consistent with the need to protect Federal systems and critical information infrastructure from cybersecurity threats and to mitigate such threats, undertake reasonable efforts to limit the impact on privacy and civil liberties of the sharing of cyber threat information with the Federal Government pursuant to this subsection.
So, um, the feds may worry about privacy, if they want to and as long as it doesn't hinder their cybersecurity efforts. It's disconcerting that this even needed to be spelled out, and it certainly doesn't count as a safeguard. The response to criticism from the bill's authors has been the same since last year: they deny that this bill has anything to do with spying on people, and insist it's just about sharing technical threat data. Just this week, Rep. Rogers flatly stated this is not a surveillance bill. Still, in an attempt to placate the opposition, they backed an amendment (pdf and embedded below) from Rep. Hines replacing that paragraph, which passed in the markup phase. Here's the new text:
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