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Civil Liberties Groups Target White House-Backed Cybersecurity Bill Civil Liberties Groups Target White House-Backed Cybersecurity Bill

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Congress

Civil Liberties Groups Target White House-Backed Cybersecurity Bill

May 10, 2012

The same coalition of civil liberties groups that targeted a House cybersecurity information sharing bill is now raising the same concerns about Senate legislation backed by the White House.

Thirty-four privacy and civil liberties groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote senators asking them to oppose the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which could come up for floor debate as soon as next week.

"In particular, we are concerned that the information-sharing provisions in Title VII allow companies, 'notwithstanding any law,' to share sensitive Internet and other information with the government without sufficient privacy safeguards, oversight or accountability," the letter said.

The bill was introduced by leaders of the Senate Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Commerce committees. It largely mirrors proposals from the White House and federal agencies.

"[The Cybersecurity Act] undermines privacy and cybersecurity by expanding without justification the authority for companies to monitor their clients' and customers' Internet usage for broadly-defined 'cybersecurity threats,' by authorizing ill-defined 'countermeasures' against such 'cybersecurity threats,' and by immunizing companies against liability for monitoring activities that violate their own contractual obligations," the letter states.

The groups leveled similar complaints against the the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which the House passed last month. The White House criticized the privacy aspects of the House bill, known as CISPA, but it has pushed Congress to enact the Cybersecurity Act.

The leads sponsor of the Senate bill, including Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., have said they are open to increasing privacy protections.

"Senator Lieberman and his colleagues have long been discussing possible revisions to strengthen privacy and civil liberty provisions, including with groups that signed the letter," a Lieberman spokeswoman said.

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