For months, privacy advocates have been fighting against the newest bill that threatens to endanger our privacy on the internet. This newest bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA), is said to hide new government surveillance programs under the guise of security protections. The longest in a stream of acts such as CISPA, SOPA, PIPA, and more, CISA is another bill of legislation that has a number of worrying measures for both the nation’s citizens and companies.
On Tuesday afternoon, the United States Senate not only shot down a number of amendments to some of the bill’s most worrying measures, but passed the bill with a 74 to 21 vote. This is not the final step in the process of getting the bill signed into law, however, as the version that was already passed in the House of Representatives has different language and must be taken to committee to put a final version together. If the House and Senate can agree on a final version, and vote it in, then it can be passed as law.
CISA is a bill that has essentially been created to stem the onslaught of corporate data breaches, allowing companies to share cybersecurity threat data with the Department of Homeland Security, who would then be able to share it with other agencies such as the FBI and NSA. The theory is that, by sharing information between agencies, they will be able to work together to assist in defending the company under threat as well as any current and future companies that came under similar threat.
The issue is that privacy advocates and opponents of CISA see it as a free pass that would allow companies to monitor their users and share their information with the government without a warrant, and that the bill would offer a backdoor that would circumvent any laws protecting users’ privacy. Some of the wording in the bill broadly supports this, and the version that was passed on Tuesday even says that any “cybersecurity threat” information gathered can be shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
Similar to many of the previous bills that came before, CISA has had opposition from the EFF, i2Coalition, Fight for the Future, and more, with many citizens tweeting, calling, emailing, and petitioning their Senators to oppose and amend this bill. One of the bigger differences this time around is the wider opposition of CISA from technology leaders, with companies such as Apple, Google, Twitter, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Wikipedia openly opposing the bill. There’s a long list of companies, many of them in Silicon Valley, right behind them in opposition as well.
That long list was not enough to sway the legislators towards a “Nay” vote in the Senate on Tuesday, though. But, between the fierce opposition from Security and Cybersecurity experts, major companies in the technology industries, and the citizens of the United States, we’re sure to see a harder fight before this bill gets passed in full.
For more information on the bill’s vote, including who voted for/against, see the Roll Call.
Stay tuned to TechRaptor for more developments, and as we reach out to some experts in the field as well as some of the companies involved.