It’s Not Cyber Security, It’s Cyber Surveillance

Posted on July 8, 2015

For five years, privacy and internet freedom advocates have successfully fended off cyber “security” bills that encourage corporations to share personal 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 to sound the alarm over cybersecurity and force legislation through Congress. The House passed the Protecting Cyber Networks Act in April, and the Senate will soon vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S 754), known as CISA. Just as in the anti-terrorism arena, the emphasis is less on sensible security measures, and more on data sharing and surveillance.

The bills aren’t cyber security, they are cyber surveillance!

Both bills offer 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.

Yes. Immunity.

The Senate could vote on CISA as early as next week, and groups like the Chamber of Commerce are lobbying hard for the bill. Grassroots action is desperately needed.

Here’s why we’re opposed to CISA:

  • CISA allows companies to share nearly any type of information with the government, including our personal information;
  • The FBI and NSA automatically get all the shared data. And they can use it for purposes beyond cyber security;
  • CISA creates a vast new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act;
  • CISA allows “hackbacks” that could harm third party networks.

Notably missing from the bill is any requirement for basic cyber hygiene like encryption, or strong passwords, which most experts affirm would be the most effective cyber security measures.

To voice your displeasure with CISA, contact your senator via the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s (BORDC) link here. Alternatively, call Sen. Durbin’s Chicago office at 312-353-4952 and Sen. Kirk’s Chicago office at 312-886-3506.