CISPA sponsor compares opponents to 14-year-olds

Twitter users flood Rogers' account with comments saying they're opposed to the cybertheat sharing bill

The chief sponsor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in the U.S. Congress has ignited a Twitter storm by suggesting many opponents of the proposed cyberthreat sharing bill are 14-year-olds in basements.

The Twitter account for Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, has received thousands of tweets from opponents of the bill since late Tuesday after he said that "if you're a 14-year-old tweeter in the basement" you don't understand why Congress needs to pass CISPA. The full U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debate on the controversial bill Wednesday.

Privacy and digital rights groups have objected to the bill, saying it would allow ISPs, email service providers and other businesses to share a wide range of customer information they believe is related to cyberthreats with the U.S. National Security Agency and other government agencies. CISPA would protect businesses sharing cyberthreat information from being sued by customers.

Several websites, including tech policy blog Techdirt picked up on Rogers' comments, made during debate Tuesday in the House Rules Committee over what amendments should be allowed on the House floor. The comments are included in a short YouTube clip posted by digital rights activist Sina Khanifar.

Twitter users reacted swiftly to Rogers' comments, some using colorful language. "Mid 30's software dev here, mostly voted republican since I turned 18," Twitter user Luke Matthews wrote Wednesday morning. "People like YOU are what's wrong with this country!"

"I am NOT a 14 yr old in a basement, I am a 26 yr old mother, wife, student and I oppose CISPA!" wrote Twitter user Tht1grl. "I have constitutional rights!"

"This whole [Rogers] thing is pretty funny considering most 14 year olds know more about the internet than he does, added Eric Fadden.

"I'm 70-year old retired computer/networking professional, in my home office, & have been against CISPA since first proposed," wrote Rich Zellich.

A spokeswoman for Rogers didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on the Twitter responses.

Some opponents of CISPA accused Rogers of saying that the only opponents of the bill were 14-year-olds. That's not quite what he said, but many critics read his comments as implying that most opposition came from teenagers.

"It seems pretty clear from the clip that that's what he's saying," digital rights activist Khanifar said in an email. "He drops the 14-year-old in basement comment, then follows by saying that people are convinced as soon as they understand what the bill does."

Rogers said he had to work hard to convince his teenage nephew about the merits of the bill. "Once you understand the threat, and you understand the mechanics of how it works, and you understand that people are not monitoring your content of your emails, most people go, 'Got it,'" he said.

Rogers also said the U.S. tech industry supports CISPA. "The Silicon Valley CEOs support this bill," he said during the Rules Committee debate. "The people who are in the business of prosperity on the Internet think this is the right approach."

Some tech trade groups, including the BSA and the Software and Information Industry Association, are strong supporters of CISPA. But several digital rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, are opposed, as are some Silicon Valley-area lawmakers.

President Barack Obama's administration has also threatened a veto.

Representative Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, questioned whether support in the tech industry was as strong as Rogers suggested. Many tech executives he's talked to are "fairly ambivalent" about CISPA, Polis said during the House Rules Committee hearing.

"Many of them feel it's fairly irrelevant because they feel they're better equipped to deal with threats to cybersecurity than our government," he said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Jared PolisLuke MatthewsU.S. National Security AgencylegislationBarack ObamaprivacySoftware and Information Industry AssociationElectronic Frontier FoundationSina KhanifarBSAsecurityU.S. House of RepresentativestwitterCenter for Democracy and TechnologyRich ZellichMike Rogersgovernmentdata protectionEric Fadden

More about BSAElectronic Frontier FoundationIDGNational Security AgencySoftware and Information Industry AssociationTechnology

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place