Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives voted to pass the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which is supposed to be designed to make it easier for businesses to share information about possible cyber attacks and threats with each other as well as the US government. Critics have said CISPA, if signed into law, is too broadly written and could be used by businesses to spy on Internet users.
One of the key differences between CISPA and the previous (and now seemingly defunct) SOPA/PIPA bills is that CISPA had support from a number of tech companies, including Microsoft. Now News.com reports that Microsoft could be backing away from that stance.
In November 2011, when CISPA was first introduced in the US Congress, Microsoft vice president for government affairs Fred Humphries was quoted as saying, "This bill is an important first step towards addressing significant problems in cyber security."
Now an official statement from the company, released on Friday, says:
Microsoft believes that any proposed legislation should facilitate the voluntary sharing of cyber threat information in a manner that allows us to honor the privacy and security promises we make to our customers.
Microsoft added that it wants "... to ensure the final legislation helps to tackle the real threat of cybercrime while protecting consumer privacy." That's a big hint that Microsoft thinks that the version approved by the House still needs some work.
CISPA's next phase is a vote in the US Senate. If the bill is approved there, it will go to President Barack Obama for his signature. However, the White House has already said President Obama could veto CISPA in its present incarnation.