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White House must now respond to CISPA protest petition, 100,000 signatures reached

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White House at night Flickr public domain
White House at night Flickr public domain

The White House must issue a public statement on the controversial cybersecurity bill CISPA now that an online petition protesting the bill has passed 100,000 signatures, the minimum threshold that is required for a response from the administration on its "We The People" website. The petition, which calls upon the Obama Administration to stop the bill from being passed into law, earned its 100,000th signature late last night, exactly a month after it was first posted by an opponent in New York. The bill stands for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act and is designed to allow private companies to share information on suspected cyber threats with the government and vice versa, but critics warn it could enable private user information to be shared without accountability.

This is actually the second time the White House will have to take a stance on CISPA. In April last year, the Obama Administration issued a veto threat against the bill as it was coming up for a vote in the House, saying the President wouldn't sign it if it were passed by Congress. The House voted in favor of CISPA, anyway, but the Senate never took action on it, so that version died in the last Congress.

This is actually the second time the White House will have to take a stance on CISPA

Earlier this year, though, CISPA was revived in a very different climate, with cybersecurity fresh in Americans' minds following reports of hackings at notable US companies including The New York Times. The bill's original cosponsors, Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), reintroduced an almost identical version to the House of Representatives, saying they had rewritten parts of it to take privacy considerations into account and were working with White House staff to avoid another veto threat. Nonetheless, activists have resumed their protests and The White House hasn't yet declared a stance. But there's a good chance it will do so in the petition response, as the White House recently used its response to a cell phone unlocking petition to articulate its position.