CISPA revival reignites social media privacy worries - FOX 35 News Orlando

CISPA revival reignites social media privacy worries

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If your employer asked for your Facebook password, would you hand it over? If the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act passes and is signed into law, employees may not have a choice.

President Barack Obama has vowed to veto a bill that would allow social media and other tech companies to share users' private information with the government, but CISPA's second round is reviving security concerns now that it's passed through the U.S. House of Representatives.

The law ventures into an interesting gray area. While it's well-known that companies check out their employees' social media presence, the law could give companies access to those things users keep private.

Although Congress had the opportunity to ban the practice and send a clear message about online privacy, lawmakers balked.

Thousands of people share the details of their lives on social media, but that doesn't mean they'd be willing to hand over their password for Facebook or Twitter to their boss. That's why CISPA is turning heads -- because it would offer companies like Google legal protection if they share private user information with the government, or anyone else, to help fight hackers.

"One of the things we really started to see is: We pool intelligence on these attacks," said Bryan Sartin, a spokesman for Verizon. "Interestingly, almost no attack happens in a vacuum."

Companies like Verizon, AT&T, IBM and Microsoft have spent $605 million to lobby Congress to pass CISPA -- and it seems like money talks. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed CISPA -- but without a key amendment that would have made it illegal for employers to ask employees to turn over their social media passwords.

"It's a very controversial bill," said privacy expert Bill McGevern.

According to McGevern, it's one thing for an employer to look at a public profile, but it's quite another to ask for access to private conversations.

"If we live in a world where everything you say privately is open to inspection by employers, we're going to be strangling people's social interactions and their speech," he said.

Six states have already made it illegal for employers to ask their workers for private passwords. Those states are:

- California
- Delaware
- Illinois
- Maryland
- Michigan
 -New Jersey

Although CISPA passed the House, it looks like it may die in the Senate, which is what happened last year. The first time around, Obama also threatened a veto.

Minnesota Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen, and Colin Peterson all voted in favor of CISPA. Rep. Michelle Bachmann didn't vote at all.

Neither Kline's nor Paulsen's office would tell FOX 9 News why they voted for CISPA in its current form without employee protections.

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