Congressman Who Supports Undermining Encryption Says We Need CISA (Which Undermines Privacy) To 'Protect Privacy'

from the up-is-down,-black-is-white,-day-is-night dept

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee (the Committee that has most strongly been pushing versions of cybersecurity bills that undermine privacy and provide more surveillance powers) apparently believes that as long as he says day is night and up is down, the world will believe him. In response to Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to shove CISA into the omnibus funding bill, Schiff insisted that this was necessary to protect our privacy:

?This is the most protective of privacy of any cyber bill that we have advanced and we need to keep in mind the overriding interest all Americans have in protecting their privacy from these innumerable hacks,? Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a cosponsor of his panel?s cyber bill, told The Hill. ?Our privacy is being violated every day. And the longer we delay on measures like this, the more we subject ourselves to those kind of intrusions into our privacy.?

Nearly everything Schiff says here is complete hogwash. This bill is far from “the most protective of privacy of any cyber bill” that has advanced. Other versions clearly had more privacy protections (mainly the one advanced by the House Judiciary Committee). And, this latest one clearly strips out privacy provisions and makes it that much more difficult to protect our privacy.

And the fearmongering about “these innumerable hacks” and how “our privacy is being violated every day” is totally meaningless, because CISA does nothing to stop these hacks. We’ve asked many times before how would CISA have stopped a single hack and no one ever answers. We’ve looked hard and cannot find a single online security expert who thinks that CISA would be useful in preventing online hacks and attacks. Because it wouldn’t. There is nothing in there geared towards stopping attacks.

You know what would help in protecting our privacy and limiting the damage from hacks? Stronger encryption. I wonder what Rep. Adam Schiff thinks about that?

Take a wild… wild guess. Oh, you’re right: He doesn’t like encryption.

“While it remains too early to tell the role encrypted communications may have played in the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, we do know that ISIS regularly instructs its operatives to use encrypted platforms precisely to help evade detection. These platforms are made overseas as well as in the U.S., and there are significant security, technological, economic and privacy issues involved in addressing the challenge posed to the intelligence community and law enforcement by encryption.

“That is why Chairman Nunes and I ? months before these horrific attacks ? requested that the National Academy of Sciences, an organization that two decades ago studied this very issue, produce an updated report that can help us to identify and design effective, technologically feasible and economically viable solutions to the increasingly dangerous problem known as ‘going dark.’ I am pleased that the Academy is proceeding with such a study, which will help inform policymakers and the public alike.


If Rep. Schiff was truly worried about hacks and keeping Americans’ data secure, he’d be supporting strong encryption. Instead, he’s looking to undermine it, while at the same time supporting a separate bill which, under the false pretense of protecting us from cybersecurity attacks, actually undermines our privacy even further.

So here’s a challenge to Rep. Adam Schiff: Can you find a single recognized cybersecurity expert who thinks that the way to protect against hacks is (1) found in this Cybersecurity Act and (2) involves figuring out ways to stop encryption from letting people “go dark”? If not, perhaps you should stop saying these things and stop legislating about it.

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Comments on “Congressman Who Supports Undermining Encryption Says We Need CISA (Which Undermines Privacy) To 'Protect Privacy'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

His reasoning on why they attached it to the omnibus is interesting too

He and other CISA supporters acknowledged to The Hill that CISA doesn’t have the support to get through on its own:


“You’ve got to attach it to something,” said House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who co-sponsored his panel’s bill. “We were not able to get a conference on the bill itself, so this is a vehicle. That’s how I see it.”

Schiff acknowledged that the process wasn’t perfect. But it was the best path under the circumstances, he said.

“In an ideal world we wouldn’t have omnibuses, but I think after three years of working to move this issue forward we were fortunate to get on the train that’s moving,” he told The Hill.

MarcAnthony (profile) says:

Our and we

Schiff’s use of “our” and “we” in the first block quote makes perfect sense, when you realize it refers to the privacy of the surveillance state, rather than that of the citizens. They would love to go back to the pre-Snowden days and not subject themselves to the intrusiveness of others knowing that they’re doing all that pesky illegal spying. Everything the government does lately just further entrenches the whole apparatus.

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