Tallying the Big Pro-CISPA Corporate Contributions
How much is it worth to U.S. corporations to be protected from legal liability when sharing cyber-threat information with the government? About $75 million, according to a recent analysis of political donations by MapLight, a non-partisan research group. Add in lobbying monies, and the price goes up by another $605 million, according to a tally by the Sunlight Foundation.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed the House of Representatives Thursday, would allow companies to provide information about customers and clients to third parties, including the U.S. government, so long as it is done for cybersecurity purposes. Before the House vote, President Barack Obama had already threatened a veto, citing concerns that companies wouldnt be held accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.
The legislation has generated fierce opposition from privacy advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Supporters of CISPA counter that companies need the flexibility and legal immunity to be able to share threat information freely.
But so far, CISPA supporters have outspent the bills detractors by orders of magnitude, says MapLight program director Jay Costa.
Days before it passed the House, CISPA attracted 36 new co-sponsors in Congress, up from just two co-sponsors. New co-sponsors have received 38 times as much money ($7,626,081) from interests supporting CISPA than from interests opposing ($200,362), according to the MapLight report.
The top donors in support of CISPA by industry include:
- Commercial banks and bank holding companies: $1,024,818
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers: $816,315
- Security brokers and investment companies: $750,077
- Telephone utilities: $587,621
- Electric power utilities: $558,520
The report also finds that interest groups that support CISPA have given 16 times as much money ($67,665,694) to members of the House than have opposing interests ($4,164,596).
Those contributions from top CISPA supporters break down as follows:
- Security brokers and investment companies: $9,054,537
- Commercial banks and bank holding companies: $8,337,964
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers: $6,093,996
- Real estate developers and subdividers: $5,448,263
- Telephone utilities: $4,663,292
Yet whereas many technology companies were loudly aligned against another cyber bill last yearthe Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPAMapLight finds that hasnt translated to CISPA opposition:
Both bills have had bipartisan support in Congress, but there is one key difference in the landscape of political influence around them: several high-contributing companies that were vocal opponents of SOPA have not expressed opposition to CISPA, and, in fact, some of these companies belong to trade associations that publicly support the latter bill.
Tech companies that opposed SOPAincluding Microsoft, Google, eBay, and Facebookhave contributed $5,786,397 to members of the 113th Congress. By comparison, key tech companies opposing CISPA have given only $17,050 to Congress, MapLight reports.
For its part, the Sunlight Foundation examined lobbying expenditures among those for and against CISPA from 2011 through the third quarter of 2012. At $605 million, CISPA supporters spent 140 times that of opponents, who spent a total of $4.3 million.
The highest expenditures included those by:
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $162,800,000
- AT&T Inc: $34,260,000
- Comcast Corp: $31,880,000
- National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $31,540,000
- Boeing Co: $27,910,000
- Verizon Communications: $27,705,000