In a 74 to 21 vote, the Senate has voted to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a bill that privacy advocates have long argued will quietly give the government invasive spying powers. The House has already passed similar legislation, and the two versions will now enter a conference committee, to be reconciled before being sent to President Obama.
A series of amendments for the bill were introduced Tuesday that would have altered some of the most controversial parts, but those were ultimately voted down.
"This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children's children will have, but what sort of world they will live in," Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group, said in a statement.
Under the bill, companies would be encouraged to silently share "security" information with the Department of Homeland Security and, ultimately, other government agencies. But civil rights groups and tech companies have argued that the terms of such agreements are vague, and give broad leeway for companies to share information with the feds without accountability.
In a statement, the Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents telecom interests, said it was pleased with the bill. "We applaud the Senate for moving this important bill and urge Congressional leaders to act quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk," the group said in the statement.
When a final version of the bill is worked out, it will be sent to the White House for a signature or veto from the president. The former appears more likely: Obama has already tentatively given his support for the legislation.