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EFF Strongly Opposes CISA Cyber Surveillance Bill and CFAA Amendment

Update: The Senate advanced CISA 85-14. You can see how your Senator voted here. Amendments to CISA will be voted on Monday. After a final vote early next week in the Senate, CISA will move to a conference committee where House and Senate leaders will resolve differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills. The final text will then be presented to Congress for a final vote in both chambers. 

The Senate will vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) within the next week. EFF vehemently opposes the bill, as well as amendments that would expand the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 

CISA is fundamentally flawed. The bill's broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers combine to make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise. Further, the bill does not address problems from the recent highly publicized computer data breaches that were caused by unencrypted filespoor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links

The bill is also accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's amendment to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. EFF also opposes the amendment.

The CFAA makes it illegal to intentionally access a computer without authorization or in excess of authorization. But much of what we do online every day—from storing photos in the cloud to watching movies to using social networks to buying a plane ticket—involves accessing other people’s computers, often with a password. The CFAA does not explain what "without authorization" actually means. Overzealous prosecutors have gone so far as to argue that the CFAA criminalizes violations of private agreements like an employer's computer use policy or a web site's terms of service, and have taken advantage of this lack of clarity by bringing criminal charges that aren't really about hacking a computer, but instead about doing things on a computer network that the owner doesn’t like.

The changes proposed to the CFAA by Sen. Whitehouse would give the government and corporations even more ways to abuse the law. We recommend the Senate take a page out of EFF's common sense changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if the chamber wants to modify the law. Many of these change can also be found in "Aaron's Law," which was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Sen. Ron Wyden in light of the aggressive prosecution of Aaron Swartz. 

CISA will come to a vote on the Senate Floor in the coming week. We urge users to call their Senators and tell them to vote against CISA

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