Washington, DC — On Tuesday, the Senate passed one of the most damning blows to your privacy in the history of the police state. With a vote of 74-21 your elected leaders decided that your already intrusive government needs more help to spy on you.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.
The bill’s proponents are touting it as a means of stemming the rising tide of corporate data breaches by allowing companies to share cybersecurity threat data with the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS could then pass it on to other agencies like the FBI and NSA, who would, in theory, use it to defend the target company and others facing similar attacks.
Like most trojan horse spy programs, this reasoning sounds somewhat rational, but if the US government has shown us anything, it is that they cannot be trusted when it comes to your personal data.
Here are six hard-hitting facts that will explain why you need to call your representative right now and demand they oppose CISA.
CISA is a free pass that allows companies to monitor users and share their information with the government without a warrant. “The incentive and the framework it creates is for companies to quickly and massively collect user information and ship it to the government,” says Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “As soon as you do, you obtain broad immunity, even if you’ve violated privacy law.”
CISA will create a backdoor that circumvents any laws that might protect users’ privacy. The version of CISA passed on Tuesday denotes that any broadly defined “cybersecurity threat” information gathered can be shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
CISA has no safeguards to prevent companies from sharing irrelevant personal information. The bill only contains vague wording about the need for a “cyber threat indicator” for companies to share your information.
Companies won’t need to redact any personal signifying information in the data they send, unless they have proof that it the personal data is NOT related to the “threat.” Since CISA protects companies from legal liability for the data they pass along, there isn’t any incentive to redact anything. “The sponsors set up a test that virtually guarantees there won’t be any serious effort to weed out unrelated information,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a vocal opponent of the bill, told Gizmodo.
Multiple arms of the police state will have access to your most private information. DHS will share all of its data from the tech companies with the National Security Agency. Along with the NSA, the data will go to the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This means that the military will also have access to your private data. With the newly adopted Department of Defense guidelines, allowing military commanders to “punish” their critics and treat them as “unprivileged belligerents,” this aspect of CISA is particularly ominous.
The government sucks at securing data. In June, 21.5 million Americans who’ve worked for the government had their social security numbers, and bank account data stolen in a hack. In September, it was announced that the Office of Personnel Management was hacked, releasing fingerprint images of 5.6 million government employees who hold security clearances. This month, the head of the CIA, John Brennan, had his email account hacked by a teenager! With a track record like theirs, it is an act of sheer insanity when the government says it needs access to all your private data and “promises” to keep it safe.
Now for the good news – big tech companies oppose this bill too.
“We don’t support the current CISA proposal,” Apple said in a statement last week. “The trust of our customers means everything to us and we don’t believe security should come at the expense of their privacy.”
“CISA’s prescribed mechanism for sharing of cyber threat information does not sufficiently protect users’ privacy or appropriately limit the permissible uses of information shared with the government,” a lobby on behalf of Facebook said this month.
In fact, a poll lists Google, Twitter and Wikipedia as opposing the legislation as well, while Comcast, HP, Cisco and Verizon are among the 12 companies who back or have remained silent on the bill.
In the past, it was outraged citizens who rose to the challenge and struck down this huge step toward the police state. And we can do it again.
Share this article with your friends and family and ask them to call their representative now, and tell them to oppose this Orwellian legislation.
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