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BK Blog Post
Posted by Tom Devine.
Tom Devine is legal director of the Government Accountability Project, where he has worked to assist thousands of whistleblowers to come forward and has been involved in the all of the campaigns to pass or defend major whistleblower laws over the last two decades.
Congress is at it again. Mere months after civil liberties and privacy activists were able to stop the reauthorization of some of the worst provisions of the Patriot Act, the Senate may be on the verge of passing a surveillance bill in disguise – CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.
CISA allows companies to disclose “cyber threat indicators” including personal information to law enforcement agencies including the NSA. As the New America Foundation has written:
CISA would allow any entity within the federal government, including intelligence agencies and law enforcement, to use the information it receives from companies for investigation or prosecution of any crimes that could result in imminent death or serious bodily harm, or even just serious economic harm. That means the data shared under this “cybersecurity” bill would be used to investigate garden-variety violent crimes or economic crimes that have nothing to do with cyber threats. This allowance for investigation or prosecution of imminent physical or economic crimes that are unrelated to cybersecurity also extends to acts of terrorism, which as we’ve seen over the last year and a half of NSA leaks, may be interpreted by the Intelligence Community to constitute a blank check for surveillance of all Americans.
In fact, the bill goes even farther, allowing the government to investigate Americans for espionage – a charge that has been inappropriately leveled at intelligence community whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, for simply uncovering waste, abuse, and illegality within their agencies.
The bill also gives near-blanket immunity to companies complying with the bill. That means the bill, which not only compromises the security of customer’s private information, allows companies to be careless in their handling of information they save and share with the federal government.
On these counts alone, GAP is urging Congress and the President to kill the bill. GAP has signed a letter with over 60 organizations and cybersecurity experts urging the President to veto the bill if it comes to his desk. Grassroots efforts are essential to making sure the internet stays free and secure and that dragnet government surveillance programs are shut down for good. Find more information on how to take action here: www.cispaisback.org