Sheldon Whitehouse Freaks Out, Blames 'Pro-Botnet Lobby' For Rejecting His Terrible CFAA Amendment
from the the-pro-botnet-lobby-is-here dept
As we mentioned yesterday, one of the (many) bad things involved in the new Senate attempt to push the CISA “cybersecurity” bill forward was that they were including a bad amendment added by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that would expand the terrible Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that should actually be significantly cut back. Senator Ron Wyden protested this amendment specifically in his speech against CISA. And, for whatever reason, Whitehouse’s amendment has been pulled from consideration and Whitehouse is seriously pissed off about it.
He went on the Senate floor to directly whine about it, even sarcastically calling out the “hidden pro-botnet, pro-foreign cyber criminal caucus” that somehow fought against the bill. Except it wasn’t a “pro-botnet” anyone who killed the amendment. It was a lot of people who were quite reasonably concerned about what the amendment would do to the CFAA. And while it’s true that Whitehouse improved the amendment from its originally really terrible state, it still was a bad amendment. Whitehouse goes on and on in has rant about who could possibly be “against” shutting down botnets or raising penalties for hacking into critical infrastructure, citing that “law enforcement” supports the bill. But, of course, that leaves out the other side entirely. And that’s not the “pro-botnet, pro-foreign cyber criminal” caucus, but rather people who are well aware of how the CFAA has regularly been abused by law enforcement to bring charges against non-criminals, or to pile on charges on those committing minor offenses. Expanding all of that without stopping the potential for abuse only means the bill will be abused further.
Whitehouse continues to make a name for himself as one of the most technologically illiterate members of the Senate. Late last year he went on a rant about a totally made up Google search (the results did not show what he claimed they showed) and an equally made up Pirate Bay whose actual site did not show what Whitehouse pretended it showed. He also was strongly in favor of backdooring encryption, arguing that if Apple doesn’t backdoor encryption, perhaps it will be opening itself up to a lawsuit when the FBI can’t track down a kidnapper (ignoring all the times that such encryption would actually protect people). This push to expand the CFAA and then whining about pushback on the Senate floor is only adding to his reputation as one of the most anti-tech industry Senators out there.
And, of course, for all the show on the floor, it’s not like the Amendment is dead anyway. As Marcey Wheeler notes in her post (linked above), there’s still a good chance that his CFAA amendment will be brought back into the bill when the House and Senate conference to resolve differences in the bills across houses.