For five years, privacy and internet freedom advocates have successfully fended off cyber-sharing bills that encourage corporations to share more customer information with each other, and with the government. Our luck may be running out.
Cyber hawks have been on the attack, using recent high-profile hacks (particularly on Sony Pictures) to sound the alarm over cybersecurity and demand legislation. And now they have a bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S 754), that gives them just what they want: a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” deal between corporations and the government that encourages corporations to share massive amounts of customer data with the government in exchange for legal immunity from privacy lawsuits.
Just like in the anti-terrorism arena, the emphasis is less on sensible security measures, and more on data sharing and surveillance. The Brennan Center’s Michael German wrote:
Experts agree that the bill would do little, if anything, to reduce the large data breaches we’ve seen in recent years, which have been caused by bad cyber security practices rather than a lack of information about threats. If passed by the full Congress, it would further weaken electronic privacy laws and ultimately put our data at greater risk. The bill would add another layer of government surveillance on a U.S. tech industry that is already facing financial losses estimated at $180 billion as a result of the exposure of NSA’s aggressive collection programs.
Last month, the Defending Dissent Foundation joined with dozens of civil society organizations and security experts in opposing CISA because the bill promotes sharing of personal information without adequate privacy protections, allows for over broad law enforcement use of shared data, and authorizes countermeasures allowing companies to retaliate against attackers in ways that could harm innocent bystanders.
This fatally flawed bill must be stopped. It’s not a cybersecurity, but a surveillance bill. And it can be voted on at any time. Get in touch with your Senator, tell them to oppose the bill!