Tag Archives: CISPA

Senate Approves CISA Surveillance Bill Masked as ‘Cyber-Security’

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate has officially approved the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) with a vote of 74 to 21. The Senate voted against four amendments aimed at adding consumer protections, including amendments from Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Pat Leahy, and Sen. Al Franken.

CISA now heads to a conference committee to align the Senate bill with the House of Representatives version. If approved by the committee the bill would go to President Obama to be signed into law.

Last Thursday, with a vote of 83 to 14, the U.S. Senate approved a set of amendments related to CISA which is designed to allow private companies to easily share threat intelligence with government agencies. Critics of the bill say the provisions will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity.

Before the vote, Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment which would require companies to adhere to their own terms of service with customers. However, this amendment failed after only receiving 32 votes. Senator Paul’s presidential campaign website says that the bill “would transform websites into government spies.”

[RELATED: Activists To Bombard Congress With Faxes To Fight Cybersecurity Bill]

Following the vote, Senator Ron Wyden, a long-time opponent of CISA, told the Daily Dot, “We think that information sharing can be useful. But … information sharing without robust privacy protections—millions of Americans are going to say that’s a surveillance bill.”

As Truth In Media recently reported, the supposedly “voluntary” aspects of the bill are not voluntary at all and amount to surveillance of private customer information.

“Number one, it’s not voluntary for their customers, millions and millions of customers,” Wyden explained. “And number two, to get the liability protection, the companies have got to say that they didn’t find anything personal and unrelated in a knowing fashion. And that’s going to be a pretty easy bar because they don’t have to do much to look!”

[RELATED: BROZE: Privacy Advocates Prepare For Battle Over Cybersecurity Bill]

Attempting to pass surveillance measures veiled as “cybersecurity” bills is nothing new. In fact, CISA is seen as the “cousin” of another controversial cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which was defeated by mass opposition in 2012.

Privacy advocates and digital rights groups have been equally vocal in their opposition to CISA. Just days before the vote the Washington Post reported Apple and Dropbox said they did not support the bill. The two companies join Yelp, Reddit, Twitter and the Wikimedia Foundation in their fight against the surveillance bill.

Senator Wyden says the opposition from tech companies has the sponsors of the bill concerned. “I don’t know how many times they kept coming back to the fact that the technology companies really weren’t acting in the interests of the country,” Wyden said. “You saw some of their comments—’There’s no reason for them to be opposed.’ [That] was because they know that these companies are experts in both cyber and privacy. They’re ones that are really knowledgeable about it, and they were opposed to the bill.”

While the bill still has several hurdles to pass before it could become law, privacy advocates and lovers of liberty should keep an eye on the measure as it progresses. It’s time for the free people of the United States, and the world at large, to decide whether or not privacy means anything in 2015.

CISPA 2015 Draft Text Emerges Online, Dem Rep Cites Sony Hack As Rationale for Reintroducing Bill

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is a controversial bill, promoted by supporters as a cyber-security solution and decried by detractors as a threat to online privacy, which has failed in two previous federal-level legislative sessions. The 112th and 113th congresses considered the bill, but pushback from civil rights groups and tech giants ultimately stopped CISPA in its tracks. Now, in the wake of a widely-publicized hack targeting employees at Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Hill is reporting that Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger has revived the legislation and reintroduced it before the US House of Representatives last Friday.

“The reason I’m putting [the] bill in now is I want to keep the momentum going on what’s happening out there in the world,” said Ruppersberger, referring specifically to the Sony hack in comments to The Hill. The technology publications Techdirt and Gizmodo argued that CISPA would not have prevented the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Techdirt characterized Ruppesburger as “the NSA’s personal Rep in Congress,” noting the fact that “NSA HQ is in his district.”

Roll Call pointed out the fact that Representative Ruppersberger himself does not believe that the bill will prevail and said to CQ, “I realize this is not going to pass in this form with me as a Democrat.” However, he said he reintroduced the bill to keep the pressure on in an effort to win Republican representatives over to his cause. In previous legislative sessions, Republican Representative Mike Rogers helped push for the bill, but Rogers has since retired from Congress.

Pirate Times contacted Representative Ruppersberger and obtained a draft copy of the new version of the legislation, which would grant sweeping new online spy powers to federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency, among others.

Representative Ruppersberger serves on the House Intelligence Committee, which is considering the legislation. The newest version of CISPA has also been referred to the Judiciary, Armed Services, and Homeland Security committees for consideration. Though Ruppersberger has yet to find cosponsors for the bill, he told The Hill, ““I’m putting the bill in by myself… hopefully that will create momentum.”

NSA Chief Pushes Bill Granting New Powers

Ruppersberger Reintroduces CISPA, Citing North Korea

by Jason Ditz, January 09, 2015
For years privacy advocates have been pushing against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which eliminates all privacy protections on the sharing of private information so long as it is done for “cybersecurity purposes.”

CISPA has failed in the past, but is back again, with Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – MD), its longtime advocate, reintroducing it and citing the hack of Sony Pictures, putatively by North Korea, as justification for new powers.

The NSA is understandably all over this as well, since it will give the companies it works with carte blanche to share data with them without legal ramifications so long as they can play the cybersecurity card.

It is the eagerness for government agencies to get these new powers and access to information that is likely informing their decision to blame North Korea for the Sony hack, as a foreign attack would be a far better sell for granting them new powers than the likely facts, that Sony was attacked by a disgruntled former employee and a handful of other hackers.

The New CISPA: Cybersecurity bill passes through Senate Committee

The Cyber Information Security Act (CISA) has passed through the Senate Select Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 12-3, pushing the bill one step further to reaching the Senate floor.

CISA is the latest reincarnation of internet-security based bills to be voted on by the government.  Last year, a similar bill called the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, but was met with controversy over what opponents of the bill called a lack of privacy protections.

“The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA),” reports Julian Hattem from the Hill, “makes it possible for companies and government agencies to share information about possible hackers and security weaknesses with each other, which advocates say is critical to make sure that blind spots aren’t left untended for long.”

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the people responsible for the creation of CISA, argues the bill would allow businesses and government agencies to more easily exchange information with regards to cyber-attacks.

Feinstein said, according to VPN Creative, “Every week, we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks…this bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyberattacks.”

Opponents to this bill and similar bills have used the Edward Snowden leaks as evidence of the government and NSA abusing cybersecurity flaws in the name of national security.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) both voted against the bill, saying in a joint-statement, they agree cyber-attacks are a serious threat to American infrastructure, but they have also seen “how the federal government has exploited loopholes to collect Americans’ private information in the name of security.”

The Center for Democracy and Technology also found faults with the bill, saying on the groups website, the bill fails to recognize and address “recently-disclosed cybersecurity-related conduct of the National Security Agency (NSA), some of which undermines cybersecurity.”  The CDF also says the bill would allow law enforcement agencies to wiretap individuals in the name of cybersecurity.

The bill will be heard next by the whole Senate and will be voted on in the coming months.