On April 3rd, more than 40 organizations, including OpenTheGovernment.org and several of our partners and allies, joined in sending a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to urge them to make the mark up of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), planned for the week of April 8 open to the public.
As our regular readers may know, the intent of CISPA is to encourage private companies to share information with the federal government that could help us better protect our cyber systems. The bill, as drafted, seriously undermines the public's right to know, however, and raises a host of privacy and civil liberties concerns (the ACLU has started a series of posts explaining problems with the bill).
The public has a right to know how Congress goes about the people's business, Closing the mark up of CISPA will deny the public information about any amendments under consideration, and the debate over such amendments.
Other Congressional Committees go beyond simply opening the doors of a mark up to make sure the public knows what happens: they webcast the meetings and make the text of the bill available well before any voting occurs. Given the importance of the topic and the very real concerns about how the bill will affect the public, HPSCI should hold this mark-up to a higher standard, not a lower one.