Okay: Now Do You Realize Why CISPA's Granting Of Broad Immunity For Companies Sharing Data With The Feds Is An Issue?

from the just-saying... dept

You may recall that, back during the CISPA debate, one of our biggest concerns was the broad immunity from liability that the bill gave to tech companies if they shared data with the government -- including the NSA. Many people campaigned for limitations on that, including restricting what kind of information would be shared, and trying to keep that info away from the NSA. Of course, given the revelations over the last couple months about the amount of information sharing that already happens with the NSA and the DOJ/FBI, -- including giving zero day exploits to the government and building in backdoors -- it seems doubly worrisome what CISPA would allow.

And yet, people insisted that our worries about the broad liability protections were overblown, noting over and over again that it was "voluntary" and that companies wouldn't just give up their data like that. Yet, as we pointed out, if you give the ability to get this information to the government, the government will find a way to take it. And, from the various revelations, it's clear they were already taking it, and the purpose of CISPA may have been to just to further protect these companies from liability.

In the recent Washington Post profile of NSA boss Keith Alexander, it ends with a detailed description of how Alexander has been pushing for more direct control over internet company networks, which should give you a pretty clear suggestion of how the NSA intended to use CISPA:
At a private meeting with financial industry officials a few years ago, Alexander spoke about the proliferation of computer malware aimed at siphoning data from networks, including those of banks. The meeting was described by a participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussion was off the record.

His proposed solution: Private companies should give the government access to their networks so it could screen out the harmful software. The NSA chief was offering to serve as an all-knowing virus-protection service, but at the cost, industry officials felt, of an unprecedented intrusion into the financial institutions’ databases.

The group of financial industry officials, sitting around a table at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, were stunned, immediately grasping the privacy implications of what Alexander was politely but urgently suggesting. As a group, they demurred.
Now, some may argue that it would be crazy to interpret CISPA liability protections from leading to that sort of situation, but given how the NSA has pushed for incredibly broad interpretations of other laws, how crazy is it really?

Given all of this, one hopes it means that CISPA is officially dead in the water.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Given all of this, one hopes it means that CISPA is officially dead in the water.

    They don't really need it to do what it would allow, do they?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    CISPA and agency-wide surveillance

    I'm convinced the purpose of CISPA was to enable NSA-style monitoring by government agencies other than the NSA. NSA can play the terrorism card in an attempt to justify its surveillance practices, but not so the FBI, IRS, and local law enforcement.

    The NSA is already sharing some of its information with the FBI, but CISPA would allow the FBI and other government agencies to collect such information directly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: CISPA and agency-wide surveillance

    Brain fart: Title should read multi-agency instead of agency-wide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act:

    It seems most legislation these days has the word 'protection' in it somewhere. I guess by protection, the Gov. is talking about protecting multi-million dollar corporations from law suits filled by civil rights groups and American Citizens.

    Take the Patriot Act for example. It killed the forth and fifth amendments in the US Constitution. That doesn't seem very patriotic to me.

    I swear, everything coming out of Washington D.C. these days is a complete joke anymore. Even the names they give legislation bills.

    So there you have it America. When you hear US Officials talking about protection, just remember who that protection is really meant for, and who it's not meant for.

    I'm almost to the point now, where words are totally meaningless to me. I guess that's where the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words" came from. I'm sure there was a lying politician that prompted the creation of that famous phrase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Skye, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 1:14pm


    People seem to still be somewhat divided on this issue. Some feel that giving up a little privacy is ok in exchange for security.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    What are the odds that there are trojans with the NSA fingerprint already in there? "Just to collect metadata," of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Privacy

    The problem is that the people give up their privacy and the government becomes more secure from changes in politics that it does not like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Voluntary + Microsoft = Disaster, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Microsoft was the first company to sign up for PRISM. When NSA comes calling, Microsoft puts on its deluxe knee-pads, drops to its knees, opens its mouth wide, and sticks its tongue out. Saying that "voluntary" means companies won't just eagerly spread their cheeks wide for the NSA is just ludicrous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    You'd be naive to think CISPA isn't the same immunity-granting data grab deal for Internet companies that the telcos got. PRISM may not yet have direct access to the Internet companies' servers but it will when this bill or some variant thereof inevitably passes. I'm sure the secret interpretation of CISPA is already written up and waiting for the bill to pass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 2:27pm


    I agree...
    I won't be purchasing anything Microsoft (and others) from now on and I encourage everyone to do the same...I'm spreading the word as fast as I can among people I know, most of whom are as pissed as I am.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    One would hope that Snowden has the files NSA keeps on the top congresscritters and just drops them already.

    Until we start claiming heads of the people who support this just to make another buck, there will always be someone willing to bring this type of crap forward for a "contribution" of some sort.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    They just want to legalize warrantless spying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Macifayo, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Privacy

    ”Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” That is a quote from Benjamin Franklin, although it has been paraphrased countless times to the point where it's hard to find the exact words he used. I feel like it is very relevant to CISPA though. Do we really want to sacrifice our privacy to the government, with a bill that promises no protection from abuse, just for a little more security? Giving up our very freedom in the hopes of being a little more safe? The government monitoring everything we do, any private conversations we've had online, used against us? If this keeps up, Orwell's novel "1984" might become a reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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