Politics Technology

Vote Imminent on CISA “Cybersecurity” Bill

Unknown Photographer, NSA
Written by Ethan M. Long

Update: The Senate has just passed CISA 74-21.

This week, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act will most likely be going to a vote in the Senate. The bill follows in the footsteps of CISPA and SOPA in encouraging companies to breach trust with their users and cooperate with the government to hand over information about them to government entities without a warrant.

The bill is marketed as a way to seeks to implement policy which could help the government be vigilant against cybersecurity threats that might harm the United States. It proposes being able to track those perceived as threats by collecting data, such as who connects to which websites and when; online movements.

If catching the threat is a pro, does that outweigh the con of collecting data on Americans, especially at a time when government spying has been highlighted? Would this collection be illegal under the fourth amendment?

“I think privacy is of great concern to Americans,” Sen. Paul said, “The Government doesn’t really have a good record with privacy.” Sen. Paul, speaking to Congress, spoke to concerns of companies breaching their privacy agreements.

“This bill says that if the company violates it in sharing your information, there will be legal immunity for that company. I think that weakens privacy,” he said.

FaxBigBrother, a website created by Fight for the Future, deals with CISA and how users can take action to tell their representatives in Congress to fight against it.

“The government is proposing a massive bribe—they will give corporations immunity for breaking virtually any law if they do so while providing the NSA, DHS, DEA, and local police surveillance access to everyone’s data in exchange for getting away with crimes, like fraud, money laundering, or illegal wiretapping,” the website says.

Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) attempted to pass an amendment to the bill, which currently includes language that suggests that if companies agree to share info, they’d be in the government’s good graces when it comes to antitrust dealings, among other favorabilities. Paul’s amendment would strike this, prohibiting immunity. His message, however, wasn’t received well, as the amendment was struck down.

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Companies such as Reddit, Craigslist, Mozilla, and Apple have expressed their disdain for the piece of legislation. For companies that do support CISA, such as Facebook, Google, and Comcast, well — they’re just going to have to deal with trust issues.

Mark Zuckerberg might not care, though. The creator of Facebook was found to have called users of his site “Dumb fucks” in its early 2004-stage. “They ‘trust me,’” he told his friend over instant message.

A website called “You Betrayed Us” says that they’ve “gotten information that Facebook is secretly lobbying for” CISA and that “Facebook’s chief Senate lobbyist, Myriah Jordan, worked as General Counsel for CISA’s sponsor, Senator Richard Burr, right up until taking the job at Facebook. On her lobbying disclosures she lists “cybersecurity” as one of the issues she’s been discussing with senators. These “revolving door” connections give companies more power and influence than ordinary people could ever have, and it’s part of the reason why companies like Facebook think they can get whatever they want out of Washington.”

Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has used sites such as Facebook to propel his campaign by connecting with the people, took to Twitter to advocate against the passage of CISA.

Of course there’s a whole other problem. CISA will encourage backdoor access, thus leading to more spying and the chance of vulnerability. Again, CISA is a prime example of creating the chance of security breaches all in the name of “fighting the enemy,” although it will be the American public and American businesses who may fall victim.

Creepy, creepy CISA.

The ACLU released a statement back in July that said “CISA is more than just a bad solution to a serious problem. It would actually make cybersecurity worse while compromising basic democratic protections for personal privacy. The Senate must reject this surveillance bill.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted on their blog today about the latest draft of the bill as it goes to vote today:

“The new language further weakens the fundamentally flawed bill, which already suffers from broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities. Further, the bill does not address problems that caused the recent highly publicized computer data breaches like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.“

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The website Stop Cyber Surveillance has collected more quotes from organizations opposing the legislation.

CISA has been debated all morning by the Senate. To watch this, click here, and keep an eye out as the vote approaches.

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About the author

Ethan M. Long

Ethan Long is a journalist based out of Boston, MA.

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Vote Imminent on CISA “Cybersecurity” Bill

by Ethan M. Long
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