Cyber Security Legislation
Every year a host of cybersecurity bills are introduced in Congress. In 2014, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was introduced in the US House, and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was introduced in the Senate. Both bills are privacy invasive bills that grant companies broad legal immunity to share more information with the government and private companies. Click here to read our FAQ on CISPA 2.0.
These bills often purport to allow companies and the federal government to “share” threat information for a “cybersecurity” purpose—to protect and defend against attacks against computer systems and networks. But the bills are written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to identify, obtain, and share your emails and text messages with the government. While business leaders have conceded that they do not need to share personally identifying information to combat computer threats, the bill provides an exception to existing law designed to protect your personal information.
The newly granted powers are intended to thwart computer security threats against a company's rights and property. But the definitions are broad and vague. The terms allow purposes such as guarding against “improper” information modification and ensuring “timely” access to information, functions that are not necessarily tied to attacks.
Once handed over, the government is able to use this information for investigating crimes that are unrelated to the underlying security threat.
The bills' vague definitions like "cybersecurity threat" and "cybersecurity system" also raise the frightening possibility of a company using aggressive countermeasures. In CISPA, if a company wants to combat a threat, it is empowered to use “cybersecurity systems” to identify and obtain “cyber threat information.” But CISPA does not define exactly how far a company can go, leaving it open to the possibility of abuse.
Companies would also be immune from both civil and criminal liability for any action, including but not limited to violating a user’s privacy, as long as the company used the powers granted by CISPA in "good faith." The immunity even extends to "decisions made based on" any information “directly pertaining” to a security threat. The consequences of such a clause are far-reaching.
EFF Related Content: Cyber Security Legislation
- Today a wide range of organizations from across the political spectrum—including EFF—sent a letter to the Senate protesting Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's proposed draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act amendment to the "cybersecurity" surveillance bill CISA. Since the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz three...
- Even some critics of the existing law say they believe the government already has enough tools to punish computer crime, without making the proposed changes. ‘‘All of this is a solution in search of a problem,’’ said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group.
- Although grassroots activism has dealt it a blow, the Senate Intelligence Committee's terrible bill , the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Act(CISA) keeps shambling along like the zombie it is. In July, Senator McConnell vowed to hold a final vote on the bill before Congress left for its six-week long...
- Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which also signed the letter), said that the word “sharing” is, “such a euphemism. The bills are about monitoring other people’s communications and sending those communications or information from or about those communications to...