The US Senate has voted to move their latest cybersecurity bill to a full Senate vote on Tuesday, October 27. The House passed their version of a cybersecurity bill this past April. Officially named the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (S.754), if passed and signed by the President, the law would basically call on private companies with online systems to become government-endorsed spies who would be immune from lawsuits filed by their customers/clients whose personal information somehow lands in government hands.
This legislation follows a long line of similar legislation that seeks to expand government snooping on citizens under the guise of protecting the government, corporations, agencies, and citizens from cybercrimes. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) has assured the public that “Things like Social Security numbers, addresses, passwords and credit information would be unrelated to a cyber threat and would, except in very exceptional circumstances, be removed.” She, along with co-sponsor Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), see this legislation as vital for minimizing ever-increasing cyberattacks such as the now infamous Sony hack. However, that’s an odd defense of this bill since they have stated the Sony hack originated from North Korea–a place where the US government has no jurisdiction.
White House sources say that once the Senate bill is passed, during the revision phase where both the Senate and House versions have to be reconciled, they will push for revisions to “make clear that the National Security Agency could not get information directly from companies and also reduce the major liability exemptions for over-sharing contained in the House bill.” But that statement is based on the trustworthiness of the White House, which is practically null and void as far as I’m concerned.
In the meantime, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been attempting to get enough backers in the Senate for an amendment to gut even the slightest possibility of any privacy violations in the bill. Furthermore, a whole host of tech companies have seen enough loopholes in the bill to raise their red flags in boisterous opposition to it’s threat to privacy, including Apple, Dropbox, Google, Twitter, Yelp, Wikipedia, HP, et al. The Electronic Freedom Foundation also opposes it. I always find it interesting how Congress continues to attempt the same legislation even after an overwhelming number of their constituents have voiced their opposition to it in the past. What’s even more curious is people who have blinders on and deny that the system is rigged or at the very least is subject to very persuasive evil influences.
Harry A. Gaylord