Skip to main content

In spite of privacy concerns, the CISA cybersecurity bill moves forward

in spite of privacy concerns the cisa cybersecurity bill moves forward capitol building cropped
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Living as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in its previous life, the Cybersecurity Information Security Act (CISA) has arisen from the dead and inched one step closer toward becoming law, reports Wired.

“If information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections then that’s not a cybersecurity bill.”

CISA, much like CISPA, aims to encourage private companies and the government to share data in the hopes of preventing and responding to cybersecurity threats. The Senate Intelligence Committee passed the bill by a vote of 14 to one, with the one dissenter, Senator Ron Wyden, voicing privacy concerns when it comes to CISA.

“If information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections then that’s not a cybersecurity bill — it’s a surveillance bill by another name,” wrote Wyden. “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.”

Privacy concerns aplenty

Privacy advocates echoed Wyden’s concerns when looking at the most recent public version of CISA, arguing the bill would allow personal data sharing that goes beyond cybersecurity threats. The bill also allows private data sharing with the government in order to prevent “terrorism,” or an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.” According to Open Technology Institute privacy counsel Robyn Greene, this language would allow investigations into violent crimes that have nothing to do with cybersecurity.

“If that weren’t worrisome enough, the bill would also let law enforcement and other government agencies use information it receives to investigate, without a requirement for imminence or any connection to computer crime, even more crimes like carjacking, robbery, possession or use of firearms, ID fraud, and espionage,” wrote Greene in February. While she believes these crimes should, of course, be investigated and not ignored, it shouldn’t be done under the guise of enhancing cybersecurity.

Another problem is the version of CISA that the Senate Intelligence Committee voted on. According to an Bloomberg TV interview with intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr, there were 12 amendments made behind closed doors, right before the bill was put to a vote. Those amendments have yet to publicly surface.

We’ll keep an eye out for CISA, though President Obama threatened to veto CISPA, if it ever reached his desk, so CISA’s prospects might not be very high.

Williams Pelegrin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Williams is an avid New York Yankees fan, speaks Spanish, resides in Colorado, and has an affinity for Frosted Flakes. Send…
Privacy is dead, but it may not matter as much as we think
life after privacy firmin debrabander interview screen shot 2020 08 20 at 3 32 48 pm

There’s a Twitter account, called Room Rater, that critiques the spaces celebrities, news anchors, and others inhabit during video calls. You might get extra points for interesting bookends or docked for bad lighting. It’s not just those on TV who are being judged for their decor, though. Due to the pandemic, we’re all seeing new sides (and sideboards) of our co-workers during video chats.

This virtual view into our colleagues’ lives is a consequence of the pandemic, but it’s also part of a larger degradation of privacy that’s been happening for years. “It's only deepened our reliance on all this stuff, and there's no going back,” Dr. Firmin DeBrabander told Digital Trends.

Read more
Facebook’s new privacy tool convinced me to delete my account
facebook hacked

For years, my Facebook account has practically sat dormant. It's a nostalgic relic of the past that lets me occasionally walk down the memory lane of my life’s first two decades. But it's also a weak link in my digital privacy. I've known for years that Facebook is constantly watching, studying me as I wander through the web. Still, I never gathered up the courage to delete my account and burn it to the ground once and for all. Until last week, that is.
The final nail in the Facebook coffin
A few days ago, I found myself staring wide-eyed at the rundown of all the nearly 1,400 websites and apps that have gathered data on me and shared it with Facebook. I was looking at the Off-Facebook Activity tool, one of the recent additions to Facebook’s suite of security options for users that I had fortuitously stumbled upon. Moments later, my cursor was hovering over the Delete Account button.

Facebook knows a lot about you. After the countless controversies and privacy “bugs,” you probably already knew that. What most people are not familiar with, however, is the vast network of third parties that has enabled Facebook to invade nearly every app you use, and become the data superpower it is today.

Read more
What is the EARN IT Act? The bill that has privacy advocates worried, explained
capitol hill twitter censorship section 230

A proposed piece of legislation called the EARN IT Act is currently making its way through the Senate, and despite its innocuous name, the bill has drawn criticism from a variety of activist groups who warn that it could have dire consequences for the future of the internet.

To help understand what the act says and how it would affect the web if passed, here's a quick rundown of the most important parts.
What exactly is EARN IT?
The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2020 (shortened to EARN IT) is a bill sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) designed to fight child sexual exploitation online.

Read more