Remember CISPA? It was the internet spying bill that would give the NSA even more access to American’s private internet conversations without search warrants. The bill got stalled in Congress after major outrage from privacy groups (both left and right) as well as hundreds of major internet corporations who went to bat for their customers.
Well, CISPA is back…and with a new name: CISA (aren’t they just so creative?)
The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws by allowing the government to ask companies for “voluntary” cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called “cybersecurity information” is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans’ personal data.
The Fourth Amendment protects Americans’ personal data and communications from undue government access and monitoring without suspicion of criminal activity. The point of a warrant is to guard that protection. CISA would circumvent the warrant requirement by allowing the government to approach companies directly to collect personal information, including telephonic or internet communications, based on the new broadly drawn definition of “cybersecurity information.”
While we hope many companies would jealously guard their customers’ information, there is a provision in the bill that would excuse sharers from any liability if they act in “good faith” that the sharing was lawful.
Collected information could then be used in criminal proceedings, creating a dangerous end-run around laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which contain warrant requirements.
In addition to the threats to every American’s privacy, the bill clearly targets potential government whistleblowers. Instead of limiting the use of data collection to protect against actual cybersecurity threats, the bill allows the government to use the data in the investigation and prosecution of people for economic espionage and trade secret violations, and under various provisions of the Espionage Act.
It’s time to get on the phone and start forcing members of Congress to publicly commit to opposing this bill.
If you’ve never contacted your Congressman or Senator before, it’s never too late to start.
This is the number for the Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121
You’ve got the tools…now get to work!