Privacy Groups, Reddit Are Urging Obama to Pledge to Veto the Cybersecurity Bill

A bill making its way through the Senate would hand over too much personal data to intelligence agencies in the name of cybersecurity, a coalition warns the president.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
July 15, 2014, 6:33 a.m.

It hasn’t passed Con­gress yet, but pri­vacy groups are already ask­ing Pres­id­ent Obama to pledge to veto a con­tro­ver­sial cy­ber­se­cur­ity bill they fear would bol­ster the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s spy­ing powers.

In a let­ter sent to Obama on Tues­day, Ac­cess, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­ti­er Found­a­tion, Red­dit, and dozens of oth­er pri­vacy and In­ter­net free­dom groups urged the pres­id­ent to pub­licly op­pose the Cy­ber­se­cur­ity In­form­a­tion Shar­ing Act, which would make it easi­er for com­pan­ies and the gov­ern­ment to share sens­it­ive data with one an­oth­er about cy­ber­at­tacks.

“Le­gis­la­tion that fo­cuses ex­clus­ively on fa­cil­it­a­tion of in­form­a­tion shar­ing “¦ jeop­ard­izes the found­a­tion of cy­ber­se­cur­ity by im­prop­erly pit­ting hu­man rights against se­cur­ity,” the let­ter reads. “We urge you to pledge to veto CISA and all fu­ture le­gis­la­tion that takes a sim­il­ar ap­proach.”

The let­ter comes just a week after the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee cleared the le­gis­la­tion 12-3 dur­ing a closed-door vote. Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, the pan­el’s chair­wo­man, said the meas­ure will help re­tail­ers and oth­ers pro­tect the per­son­al in­form­a­tion of cus­tom­ers and help thwart hack­ing at­tempts by for­eign gov­ern­ments.

CISA would make it pos­sible for busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to swap data about po­ten­tial hack­ers and se­cur­ity flaws in or­der to learn best prac­tices for de­fend­ing against such ma­li­cious activ­ity.

But a fa­mil­i­ar chor­us of pri­vacy and In­ter­net free­dom groups have ris­en up in op­pos­i­tion to the bill, which they say is too sim­il­ar to the Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence Shar­ing and Pro­tec­tion Act that the House passed last year. That pas­sage came des­pite Obama say­ing he would veto the meas­ure for lack­ing ap­pro­pri­ate safe­guards on pri­vacy and con­fid­en­ti­al­ity.

Some of the Sen­ate bill’s lan­guage seeks to pro­tect pri­vacy by re­quir­ing com­pan­ies that share in­form­a­tion to first re­move per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able data (e.g. names or So­cial Se­cur­ity num­bers) of Amer­ic­ans.

Those of­fer­ings have not as­suaged con­cerns of pri­vacy ad­voc­ates, however, who ar­gue the le­gis­la­tion would make it easi­er for a com­pany like Face­book to turn over vast quant­it­ies of private on­line data to the gov­ern­ment. Skep­tics say in­form­a­tion giv­en to the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment would be also de­livered to the NSA and oth­er in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

In ad­di­tion, the let­ter main­tains that im­munity pro­tec­tions for com­pan­ies lim­it their in­terest in pro­tect­ing cus­tom­er data and do not re­quire per­son­al in­form­a­tion to be stripped out be­fore data is shared with the gov­ern­ment un­less there is veri­fi­able know­ledge that such in­form­a­tion is present.

“While amend­ments at­tached to CISA dur­ing the com­mit­tee markup al­le­vi­ate con­cerns about the bill’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate im­pact on non-U.S. per­sons, the re­vised bill fails to cor­rect many of the bill’s most ba­sic prob­lems,” the let­ter states. “In fact, while amend­ments os­tens­ibly re­quire ad­di­tion­al lim­ited data use and re­ten­tion lim­it­a­tions, those pro­vi­sions are left wide open to secret gov­ern­ment in­ter­pret­a­tion.”

Crit­ics of gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance have long ar­gued that in­tel­li­gence agen­cies op­er­ate un­der loose in­ter­pret­a­tions of vague stat­utes to col­lect far more data on Amer­ic­ans than Con­gress in­ten­ded to al­low.

It is un­clear when the full Sen­ate may con­sider CISA, but some aides have said its back­ers may at­tempt a vote be­fore the Au­gust re­cess.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
1 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
4 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login