Senate Pushes Forward With CISA As Internet Industry Pulls Its Support
from the what-are-they-thinking? dept
Despite the fact that most of the internet industry has recently come out against the ridiculous faux-cybersecurity bill CISA, the Senate today began the process of moving the bill forward with a debate. The arguments were pretty much what you’d expect. The supporters of the bill, such as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr, went on and on about how the bill is “voluntary” and about various online hacks (none of which would have been stopped by CISA — but apparently those details don’t matter). Senator Ron Wyden responded by pointing to all the internet companies coming out against the bill, and saying (accurately) that they’re doing so because they know the public no longer trusts many of those companies, and they don’t want a bill that will almost certainly be used for further surveillance efforts.
Amazingly, Burr shot back with a really dishonest and misleading claim that companies that don’t agree to “share” information with the government are the ones harming their users by somehow not protecting their info. That’s fairly incredible. The reason that companies don’t want to share info is because no one — the companies or the public — trust the government to not abuse the information. To turn that around and pretend that sharing the info with the government is likely to better protect user information is laughable.
The fact that the internet companies have finally come out against CISA is a really big deal. For the past few years, they’ve remained pretty quiet on it and related bills, because it would have granted them immunity from liability for participating in the program. So, for the tech companies, it was tough to argue against the bill, since it just protected them from legal liability. Yet, in the last few weeks, many internet companies and industry associations have (finally) spoken out against the bill, noting that it actually puts their users’ privacy at risk. This also helps highlight how the claim that this is all “voluntary” is a myth, and the companies recognize that they will likely be pressured into sharing information.
Meanwhile, a bunch of amendments have been introduced along with CISA… including an absolutely terrible amendment introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that would revamp an unrelated bill, the infamous CFAA, which needs to be reformed. Except that the Whitehouse amendment makes the CFAA worse, not better.
There’s still plenty of process to occur, but the ball is now rolling. There will likely be some fights and votes in the next few days, but if you don’t think CISA (or this horrible CFAA amendment) should pass, now would be a good time to call your two Senators and let them know to oppose this.