Spy Bill Approved as Cybersecurity “Protection”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has approved the  Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act, which is really a spy bill.

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The Senators on the committee know people are tired of all the spying they have been subjected to, so they aren’t ever going to admit it when they offer a bill to legitimize more government spying. Instead, they will come up with a different name and let us find out what is really in the bill when it gets passed.

[See also, “Government Doesn’t Care about Cybersecurity.”]

Thus, AllGov.com reports, “Senate Intelligence Committee Approves ‘a Surveillance Bill by another Name.’

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act, which would facilitate the sharing of information from private companies to the government. The putative reason for the legislation is to stop cyberattacks, but some are concerned it will allow transfers of large amounts of personal information to the government.

The vote was 14-1 with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) the lone holdout. “Cyberattacks and hacking against U.S. companies and networks are a serious problem for the American economy and for our national security,” Wyden said in a statement. “It makes sense to encourage private firms to share information about cybersecurity threats. But this information sharing is only acceptable if there are strong protections for the privacy rights of law-abiding American citizens.” Wyden called the bill “a surveillance bill by another name.”

Well, that is one side of the story. What do the defenders of the bill have to say? Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) indicates companies are banned from sending private data to the Feds, according to Wired. But then he immediately says,

If [information] finds its way to the federal government, though, once we distribute it in real time and we realize there’s personal information, any company that discovers it has to remove it or minimize it in a way that it can’t be shared anywhere else.

While the committee has not released the text for the bill that was approved, the previous version that was available to the public  allowed all sorts of criminal investigations to be justified on the basis of this data—investigations of crimes that were not related to cybersecurity.

Privacy advocates believe the bill could be dangerous and complain that it was never publicly debated. Until the final version is released, in a way that allows time for analysis and debate, we can’t really know what is in the Bill.

And I would like to find out what is in this one before we pass it.