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.
With that, the ball was rolling. Both Apple and Dropbox directly came out against CISA. Then Twitter, Yelp, Wikimedia and Reddit.

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.

Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 5:11am

    Well... yeah

    ...Facebook has been much less involved in those fights -- despite the fact that it often has more information than those other players.

    If Facebook has more info, then they also have more incentive to try and get immunity for 'sharing' it.

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

    • icon
      Violynne (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:09am

      Re: Well... yeah

      Yep, took the words right out of my mouth.

      It's no different than AT&T having monopoly powers years ago - in exchange the US government can intercept any phone call without a warrant.

      US Congress - fighting terrorism because they're the real terrorists.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:43am

      Re: Well... yeah

      Precisely. And let's not forget that it is one of the prime targets for Govt surveillance. As I see it now we can't really state FB is really supporting CISA but where there is smoke there may be fire so all caution is not enough.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 7:24am

      Re: Well... yeah

      Exactly. D-E-S-P-I-T-E is not the correct way to spell "because of".

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:43am

    Zuckerberg would pimp his mother for a buck.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:45am

    Now that's pretty funny

    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:

    Those poor, naive, ignorant losers at Fight for the Future actually think that a petition will cause sociopath Mark Zuckerberg to change his mind? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 9:06am

      Re: Now that's pretty funny

      What if we told Facebook users about this instead? Just put out some ads on... Facebook?

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

  • identicon
    Just Sayin', 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:59am

    YouProduct

    Facebook has a lot of data to SELL without liability.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 7:37am

    The problem these companies should be aware of is that once you're in bed with the government, they don't let you back out (like the mob). Such is the case when you hand over your customers data to the government willfully. It is one thing to do so visa be court order as you can always claim "couldn't do anything about it". You can't justify it when you do it willfully - and once you hand it over, the government immediately has leverage over you to "share" other information. Why? Because at that point, there are 1,001 ways for said government to leak the fact that you willfully shared data with them (gee whiz... you know it would be a shame if your customers found out you gave us this data on a silver platter... so we also want this, and this, and this)... It would never end (well, not until you go belly up). And it's not just the government. If any of your competitors find out, they can leak it as well. Pardon the ramble, but that's just the way it is.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 7:54am

      Re:

      Of course this has already happened. Companies the size of Facebook (or Yahoo or Google) lack the internal controls necessary to stop it from happening, even if they want to.

      There is always a way. Whether it's a black-bag job to backdoor their backup servers or a sizable payoff to a well-placed network engineer or getting their own people hired in the auditing department that's supposed to stop this kind of thing, there is always a way. The data involved is too massive and too valuable to be left on the table.

      So I guarantee you that Facebook et.al. are completely, absolutely, 100% 0wned by the United States government. They might also be 0wned in whole or in part by other governments -- certainly the Russians and the Chinese have both the motivation and the resources to accomplish that and it's an obvious move.

      So trying to stop that is futile and silly. The only remaining question is whether or not they've allowed this to happen willingly, and clearly Facebook has.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 8:26am

        Re: Re:

        I agree in the sense that they are owned by the government. I would go so far as to say at this point they are literally extensions of the federal government. Snowden showed us, in a rather concrete fashion that Google, etc., are not as separate from the government as you might think. Of course, they where quick to deny it with carefully chosen words, and those that drink from their monetary bathwater are quick to accept those denials without question with the hope that others do the same. That's not gonna happen on this end.

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

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 7:50am

    In character

    This would seem to be very unfortunate if it's true, and hopefully Facebook reconsiders


    I hope so too, but let's face it. This is Facebook we're talking about. Facebook has very little regard for the internet or its users, so I don't expect them to change their stance.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 7:54am

    Zucker Dirt

    Zuckerberg is a scumbag. Nothing is worse than a hypocrite. Spends the money he makes off peoples private data to buy up land around his own home to keep his lifestyle secret.

    This douche-bag deserves to fall face first into the failed business dirt!

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

  • identicon
    bshock, 26 Oct 2015 @ 8:20am

    hardly surprising

    Mr. Zuckerberg and his monster have constantly demonstrated themselves to be megalomaniacal sociopaths who consider all other beings as mere prey. Small wonder that they've decided to ally with the megalomaniacal sociopaths of the U.S. Congress in this case.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2015 @ 7:03am

      Re: hardly surprising

      What was it, when he started Facebook when it was a small college project, that he said in an email back then? "5000 people sent me all this info about them, I don't know why, idiots".

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 8:35am

    The most complete database of human relationships ever created. Yeah, i'm sure no government would ever be interested in that.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re:

      Read between the lines...

      (F)ace
      (B)ook
      (I)ncorporated... create your dossiers for us.

      Think about it, and wake the phuck up, people.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      I wouldn't call it complete; if anything there's too much 'fluff' in such database. When FB started taking off in popularity there was an informal competition as to who could amass the most FB friends, even if they were not friends in real life. When I first heard about that one person already had over 5000 'friends' and still growing. Try making sense of those relationships!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 9:10am

        Re: Re:

        Try making sense of those relationships!

        It's not as difficult as you might think. Let me explain at a brief and superficial level.

        In the world of pattern recognition, we talk about "feature extraction". That's the process whereby we measure things, so if we were interested in classifying motor vehicles, one of the features we might extract is "number of axles". Another might be "number of wheels", and still another might be "number of doors".

        The idea, of course, is to use those features to figure out what kind of vehicle we've got. But not all features are equally useful: if we're trying to tell the difference between a Mercedes sedan and a Toyota sedan, "number of wheels" won't help.

        So the next step is "feature selection": what's actually useful? Which features will enable us to make decisions?

        And the step after that is "feature weighting", because even if we've decided that there are 22 features useful for decision-making, they're almost certainly not all equally useful.

        There is no doubt that by now extensive theoretical and experimental analysis has been carried out on the Facebook data corpus and that algorithms have been written which perform this process, at scale, and quickly. Facebook themselves have no doubt done this because processing the data in this fashion yields saleable output, and we all know that Facebook sells everything that it can to anyone with cash in hand. And any government in possession of Facebook's data has undoubtedly done the same thing -- with their own purposes in mind.

        The combination of this approach with machine learning yields code that cuts right through the "5,000 friends" problem like it isn't even there.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 9:11am

        Re: Re:

        Try making sense of those relationships!

        How about analyzing private message metadata and photo facial recognition.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 9:37am

    The problem is this is just the next step. We already know that the government has unwarranted mass-surveillance going on, and all this bill is going to do is give immunity to all service providers and cement in this gestapo mentality of total control.

    It is no wonder that they keep resurrecting this legislation...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 9:57am

    How is FB even relevant to this? They're headed towards obsolescence, if not already with their shady tactics, purchase of smaller companies and government assistance. They've betrayed their users and as a result are losing ground quickly.

    Which leads me to ask who cares whether FB is for or against CISA? Their position or opinion should not and does not matter. They're gone in a few years anyway so these inquiries can be focused on other companies that matter.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 10:08am

    I am tempted to uninstall the Facebook virus

    The more I hear about Facebook and Zuckerberg, the more I dislike both. I am more and more tempted to uninstall the Facebook virus.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 10:33am

      Re: I am tempted to uninstall the Facebook virus

      Tempted, really? Hopefully if and when you actually get around to standing up for your right to privacy it won't be too late.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2015 @ 7:16am

        Re: Re: I am tempted to uninstall the Facebook virus

        I got an account by force, as microsoft killed msn messenger, most everyone I know used it so I only have people I consider real friends on there, and unfortunately the older we get, the less we see each other,so it's my only way to stay in touch, but since facebook killed the XMPP (not sure if that is the protocol's exact acronym) and optional off the record chat with programs such as Pidgin, I logged on there and asked all of them for their phone numbers and said I wouldn't be logging on FB much at all anymore. The activity of all my friends on there, even the girls who were the most enthusiastic about that thing, has dropped by at least 80-90% on there. I guess I'm a bad guy and have "things to hide" if I ain't using it. Well, fuck that line of thought.

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

  • identicon
    Truth Speaker, 26 Oct 2015 @ 10:39am

    Congressional Acronym Misdirection

    The acronym for CISA is intentionally misleading. It is really the

    Complete
    Internet
    Surveillance
    Act

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

  • icon
    jakerome (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 10:39am

    A better acronym

    Actually the acronym is fine. Finally figured out what it's really short for.

    Codification of Internet Surveillance in America.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 11:15am

    Facebook and privacy don't go together

    I'm sure that Facebook is already sharing a lot of information with the government. Their facial recognition database, for instance, is likely being shared with various agencies. They wish to continue to do so without liability.

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

  • identicon
    Yes I know I'm commenting anonymously, 26 Oct 2015 @ 11:34am

    Or..

    "Hopefully, the company changes its position on this."
    Or, hopefully the public changes its position of the company. That would also prevent subsequent problems.
    (Yes, I know, but I may dream.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 11:54am

    "While Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn and others have been quite vocal in fighting back against government surveillance"

    No, Google absolutely has not been vocal in the fight against government surveillance.

    In fact, Eric Schmidt said this:
    "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      "While Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn and others have been quite vocal in fighting back against government surveillance"

      No, Google absolutely has not been vocal in the fight against government surveillance.

      In fact, Eric Schmidt said this:
      "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."


      Taking one stupid quote out of context from someone barely associated with the company any more doesn't erase what the company has been doing for quite some time on surveillance stuff. Google has been fighting. Not hard enough in my opinion (Apple, Twitter and Yahoo have done more), but Google has been deeply engaged in the push from what I've seen.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2015 @ 1:43pm

        Re: Re:

        Let's assume you're right. (And I think, pretty much, you are.)

        It doesn't matter. Google sits on far too much data for any intelligence agency on this planet to ignore. ALL OF THEM want to get their hands on it. Some of them have the ability to do so, and no doubt some of those have succeeded.

        There's nothing that Google can do to stop this. They're helpless. They're up against adversaries with enormous budgets, large personnel resources, and expertise-in-depth. They're up against adversaries who can plant employees. They're up against adversaries who can craft custom hardware at the chip level. They're up against adversaries who can pull black-bag jobs against their executives and programmers and everyone else. They're up against adversaries who can and will lie, bribe, extort, cheat, blackmail, and anything else in order to get the job done.

        So yes, Google can talk a good game and can even put its engineers to work trying to make it really happen. Won't matter. Every bit of data that Google has will be acquired.

        They only way to avoid having that happen is not to collect the data. And Google won't do that because they can't do that.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Every bit of data that Google has will be acquired.

          There is little to no reason to believe this is true. I do believe that the government can get access to a lot of targeted info, but the idea that *all* of it is acquired is unlikely to ridiculous.

          As for the claim that there's nothing that can be done, I don't buy it. Encryption, done right, can work. Google *should* do a much better job allowing users to do end to end encryption for email, but the idea that everything Google has the government has is not realistic.

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

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 2:00pm

    Facebook's denial

    Added a note with Facebook's denial of this, saying it has taken no position at all on the bill. Whether that's true or not I've also heard from people in Congress saying that they've been told that Facebook is for it, so whether or not Facebook is actively lobbying on it, the impression on the Hill is that they are for it.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Oct 2015 @ 6:59pm

      Re: Facebook's denial

      Given the bill stands to affect both Facebook and it's users to a significant level, 'No comment' isn't really an option here. If they were against it, they'd clearly say so, so by claiming not to have a position, all they're really doing is admitting that they are indeed for it.

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

  • identicon
    Richard Bartel, 27 Oct 2015 @ 1:42pm

    Facebook

    The only option is to boycott Facebook and relegate them to the dustbin of MySpace.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.