Amash Outlines Concerns About Cyber Act

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade) Monday spoke to reporters in Grand Rapids about his amendment to the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

CISPA is designed to make it easier for businesses to share information with each other and the federal government in the event of a cyber attack.  It eliminates legal barriers that might prevent that kind of cooperation. 

But several groups are concerned the law would give the government access to personal information in the event of national security, which has a broad definition.  There’s also a provision that prevents businesses from being sued for sharing secure data.

“They can provide that information, not just related to who the attacker is, but also all of the information that the attacker was trying to get at,” said Amash.

Amash is also uncomfortable that the act would override state and local privacy laws. 

He helped pass an amendment to CISPA that makes certain documents off limits.  They include records regarding library and book information, gun sales, tax returns, along with educational and medical information.

“Our constituents privacy demands that we not give the government unfettered and unsupervised access to these documents in the name of cyber security,” Amash told Congress last week.

The freshman Congressman said his amendment takes care of some concerns, but not all of them.  One amendment that was not approved would have removed a clause about national security and given private companies and organizations more oversight over their own data. 

The House Bill has passed, but the Senate’s version has not, Amash said.

“We need a better way to protect people’s records,” said Amash.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) helped put CISPA together.  He said legislation like this is necessary to keep the country safe and involves no part on the federal government to steal personal data.

“That’s all this bill is," said Rogers. "It draws a very fine line between the government and the private sector, it’s all voluntary, there’s no new mandates, there’s no government surveillance."