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EFF to Congress: Stop the Cybersurveillance Bills

DEEPLINKS BLOG
April 22, 2015

EFF to Congress: Stop the Cybersurveillance Bills

EFF joined over 50 privacy and civil society organizations that sent two letters to Congress demanding it vote against the Senate Intelligence Committee's cybersecurity "information sharing" bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA, S. 754) and the House Intelligence Committee’s bill, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA, HR 1560). The letters demand Congress oppose the bills as the House will be voting on the cybersecurity bills shortly.

As the letter points out, CISA and the PCNA are surveillance bills in disguise that may not even improve computer security. In fact:  

CISA would significantly increase the National Security Agency’s (NSA) access to personal information, and authorize the federal government to use that information for a myriad of purposes unrelated to cybersecurity.

The two bills are part of a slew of cybersecurity bills that have been introduced in Congress this year that are ostensibly intended to facilitate more information sharing about computer security threats from the private sector to the government. But the bills aren't about "information sharing." They're about surveillance. The bill's vague definition and broad legal immunity for new spying powers will facilitate a potentially enormous amount of unrelated personal information to government agencies like the NSA.

The bills' immunity provisions could even increase the militarization of the internet by encouraging companies to conduct computer network exfiltration attacks on adversary's computers.

To make matters worse, companies are granted broad legal immunity leaving them free to share the information without being concerned about what it might be used for. And as one of the letters points out: "CISA allows everyday police to use the information to investigate crimes that have nothing to do with cybersecurity, such as robbery, arson, and carjacking."

The letter is being sent as the cybsersecurity fight heats up in Congress. Five cyber bills have been introduced, all of which have serious problems, and the Senate could vote on CISA at any time. CISA’s past iterations have faced several veto threats from President Obama, a petition with over 800,000 signatures, and a widespread online campaign dubbed "Stop Cyber Spying Week." That means we need your voice to defeat this bad legislation too. Contact your lawmaker and tell them that this privacy invasive cybersecurity surveillance bill must be killed.

You can read the full text of the letters and see the signatories against CISA and against the PCNA here and here.

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