EFF, Access, and a coalition of other digital rights organizations have launched a campaign opposing legislative attempts to make information sharing between companies and the government easier. The 5 bills—touted as cybersecurity bills—would provide legal avenues for Internet companies to share unprecedented amounts of data with the US government, often with few protections for private information that may be included in these data dumps.
In 2012 and 2013, President Obama threatened to veto similar cybersecurity proposals. However, this year the Administration has made no such promise. The coalition site includes a petition to Obama urging him to issue a veto threat as well as a tool that lets concerned citizens tweet at their members of Congress, urging them to oppose these bills.
Long-time supporters of EFF may recognize this issue. We fought a pitched battle against CISPA (Cyber Information Sharing & Protection Act) in 2012 and 2013, managing to rally supporters to defeat these thinly veiled surveillance proposals. With the advent of the Snowden leaks and the critical public discussion around surveillance going on throughout the country, Congress didn’t dare to move on these proposals in 2014. But now it’s 2015, and Congress is trying to push through a cybersecurity package with little debate and few protections for individual privacy.
The coalition website includes an analysis of the five proposals Congress is considering, and rates them on three criteria:
- Whether they safeguard privacy and civil liberties
- Whether cybersecurity threats are reported to a civilian agency, not a military one
- Whether the bill provide sweeping liability protections for companies that voluntarily share data with the government
These were all issues Obama highlighted when he threated to veto CISPA, so we’re asking that he stand by those principles and reject proposals that don’t meet the bar he himself set. In addition, the coalition site highlights other issues—including other dangerous provisions of the bills that could impact the privacy of Internet users.
Things are moving quickly on these cybersecurity bills. We expect Congress to have hearings within the next few days, and a vote immediately afterwards. That means we really need your help. Please sign our petition to President Obama and tweet at your member of Congress. Then ask you friends to do the same.