WASHINGTON, DC – With the body of SOPA still warm in the grave, Congress is making another run at a cyber-bill — and the battle over it is starting to look a little familiar.
This one’s not about piracy. Known as CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) the bill would, among other things, allow private companies — internet service providers and others — to turn over information about users to law enforcement and security agencies without a court order. It has bipartisan support (there are 82 Republican co-sponsors and 25 Democratic ones, unusual these days) and a lot of backing from big tech companies. But it has infuriated advocates who claim it lacks protections for individual privacy.
A vote in the House is expected next week, which has privacy advocates scrambling — this week a coalition launched a Twitter campaign similar to the one that brought the SOPA bill to the public’s attention. This campaign has led quite a few people to OpenSecrets.org looking for information on the bill, who backs it in Congress and who supports those lawmakers. For instance, we dug in the data to find out who has been contributing to the bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich).
It turns out that of the several dozen companies that have lobbied on CISPA, 12 have given Rogers or his leadership PAC (Majority Initiative To Keep Electing Republicans) at least $103,000 just in this election cycle. The single biggest contributor to Rogers that also lobbied on the bill was SAIC, a huge defense contractor that provides electronics and information systems to the Pentagon and other parts of the government. Here’s the company’s lobbying profile and here’s SAIC PAC’s list of contributions to candidates since the start of 2011.
And this is the list of companies that both lobbied on the bill and contributed to Rogers or his PAC:
Organization Individual PAC Totals
SAIC Inc – $20,000 $20,000
Lockheed Martin – $15,000 $15,000
AT&T Inc $1,000 $11,000 $12,000
CMS Energy – $12,000 $12,000
Northrop Grumman – $11,000 $11,000
General Dynamics – $8,000 $8,000
National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn – $6,000 $6,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn – $5,000 $5,000
Time Warner Cable – $5,000 $5,000
US Telecom Assn – $3,000 $3,000
Cellular Telecom & Internet Assn – $3,000 $3,000
Exxon Mobil – $3,000 $3,000
You can read our profile of the bill (H.R. 3523) here. You’ll be able to see both a list of companies that have lobbied on it (which will be updated this coming week) and the list of all co-sponsors of the bill. With these tools, you’ll be set to start exploring this bill’s supporters (and who their financial backers are) but keep in mind these few things:
Lobbying disclosure reports show who lobbied on a bill and how much they spent on lobbying overall, not just on that bill. And spending on lobbying is different from spending on campaign contributions. But we also have campaign contribution information for the lobbyists themselves and the companies that hire them.
Just because a lawmaker has taken a stance on or cosponsored a bill and he or she has received campaign money from a company or lobbyist with an interest in the legislation doesn’t mean there was a quid pro quo. Most of the companies that have lobbied on the bill have many different interests in Washington. For instance, General Dynamics, which has a keen interest in this new bill, also lobbied on 51 other pieces of legislation, and spent $11.4 million on lobbying altogether.