As a member of congress, it’s one thing to support a bad piece of tech policy because you don’t fully understand the Internet but it’s quite another when you brag about all the money you’re making on the side from that position.
That’s what happened yesterday when Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) tweeted about how pro-CISPA organizations donate much more money than those that don’t support the bill.
CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, seeks to give American companies more legal breathing room (protection against lawsuits) when collecting and sharing consumer/user data for the purpose of preventing massive Internet security threats. The bill failed to gain traction last year and its current version is strongly supported by President Barack Obama. As many critics have pointed out, CISPA is too vague when it comes to what pieces of personal data a company is allowed to share with the government, and doesn’t specify sufficient boundaries for protecting privacy rights.
Rogers initially tweeted a link to an article (screenshot shown above) that outlined the collective contributions that pro-CISPA organizations donated to House members. The pro-CISPA groups, such as AT&T, IBM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Comcast, gave upwards of $55 million to congressional members, where anti-CISPA groups have only given about $4 million, according to political finance activist group MapLight. Basically, this is the kind of information that should send up all sorts of red flags — since many of these companies that support CISPA stand to benefit financially in one way or another if it passes.
The tweet in question has since been deleted by Rogers. And since then the congressman (or one of his aides) has tweeted statements that attempt to further explain what CISPA does and doesn’t do. But without any evidence attached to those statements, it’s pretty much a matter of how you interpret the language written in the bill.
CISPA is currently being held up for review in a house committee, and is expected to head to the floor for a vote in the near future.