While Most Of The Rest Of The Internet Industry Is Fighting Against CISA, Facebook Accused Of Secretly Lobbying For It
from the this-is-a-concern dept
For the past few years, much of the internet industry had been mostly silent on CISA, or vaguely for it, mainly because it would provide them immunity from liability if they share too much information with the government. However, as more details have come out about CISA, making it clear that it’s a surveillance bill, rather than any sort of cybersecurity bill, the internet industry has finally, mostly come out against it. It started with Salesforce.com, after people started protesting a letter it had signed saying it favored “cybersecurity” legislation, but without naming CISA. In response, Salesforce came out directly and said that it did not support CISA. Soon after that, the BSA (the Business Software Alliance, which now prefers to just be called “The Software Alliance”), which had put together the letter Salesforce signed, said that it did not support CISA (or any of the other cybersecurity bills that have been introduced). Soon after that, CCIA, which represents a bunch of internet companies, came out directly against CISA, saying:
CCIA is unable to support CISA as it is currently written. 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. In addition, the bill authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties.
However, the folks at Fight for the Future, who have been working hard to stop CISA, are now claiming that they have it on good authority that Facebook is one of the only internet companies secretly lobbying in favor of the bill and is asking people to sign its petition to convince Facebook to back down:
This bill is toxic. The public hates it and tons of tech companies are against it, but Congress keeps trying to ram it through. Now that we know that Facebook lobbyists are working behind the scenes to get it passed, it makes more sense why Congress keeps coming back to it.
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.
Several offices on the Hill have heard from Facebook that they support CISA. As much as we wish we could reveal our sources, we agreed not to (selective leaking is part of how the lobbying game works, unfortunately). But this information matches with everything we know about Facebook’s love for CISA over the years. They backed the bill loudly before it was unpopular and then stayed silent as other big tech companies came out against it. We’ve asked them to state their position publicly, bu they have said nothing. Facebook has backed this from day one, and now they’re the lone tech voice still working to make sure it passes.
This would seem to be very unfortunate if it’s true, and hopefully Facebook reconsiders. While Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn and others have been quite vocal in fighting back against government surveillance, Facebook has been much less involved in those fights — despite the fact that it often has more information than those other players. Facebook seems increasingly out of step with the rest of the internet industry in making sure that protecting the privacy of their users against government surveillance is a top priority. Hopefully, the company changes its position on this.
Update: For what it’s worth, Facebook is now denying the story, saying that it has not taken a position either for or against CISA (and doesn’t seem interested in doing so either way). That still seems like an odd position to take given that most of the other companies in the industry have come out against the bill. And, in addition, I’ve now heard from others on Capitol Hill as well supporting the statements from Fight for the Future that Facebook is considered to be in favor of CISA, though it’s not clear if the company has been actively lobbying for it.