Civil Liberties Groups Send CISPA Opposition Letter to Members of Congress

Thirty-four civil liberties groups have signed onto a letter urging lawmakers in the House of Representatives to vote against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) when it comes up for a vote on the floor either today or tomorrow. The letter lays out the collective groups' continued opposition to the bill after a secret markup hearing last week was held and amendments put forward that would have added privacy protections for Americans were soundly rejected by hearing members. Without privacy protections in place these groups, some in tech community and the citizenry of the Internet will largely oppose this bill.

Likely the bill will pass like it did last year, but the controlling party at the moment seems to have learned nothing from SOPA; instead of crafting thoughtful legislation that takes into account the rights of Americans CISPA unravels years of privacy protections in the name of "security" and it gives corporations blanket immunity from litigation related to any information they might share with the government. Further it removes the need for the government to seek the approval of a court to gather such information.

Anyway, we all know the bill is bad news for Internet users, so we'll let the 34 civil rights groups and other organizations that signed the letter lay just how awful this bill is. In the meantime, you can let your elected representative in Congress know that you don't like CISPA, by using the Entertainment Consumers Association's advocacy campaign tools.

Dear Representative:

Earlier this year, many of our organizations wrote to state our opposition to H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA). We write today to express our continued opposition to this bill following its markup by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Although some amendments were adopted in markup to improve the bill’s privacy safeguards, these amendments were woefully inadequate to cure the civil liberties threats posed by this bill. In particular, we remain gravely concerned that despite the amendments, this bill will allow companies that hold very sensitive and personal information to liberally share it with the government, including with military agencies.

CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity. Although a carefully-crafted information sharing program that strictly limits the information to be shared and includes robust privacy safeguards could be an effective approach to cybersecurity, CISPA lacks such protections for individual rights. CISPA’s information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of emails to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command.

Developments over the last year make CISPA’s approach even more questionable than before. First, the President recently signed Executive Order 13636, which will increase information sharing from the government to the private sector. Information sharing in this direction is often cited as a substantial justification for CISPA and will proceed without legislation. Second, the cybersecurity legislation the Senate considered last year, S. 3414, included privacy protections for information sharing that are entirely absent from CISPA, and the Obama administration, including the intelligence community, has confirmed that those protections would not inhibit cybersecurity programs. These included provisions to ensure that private companies send cyber threat information only to civilian agencies, and a requirement that companies make “reasonable efforts” to remove personal information that is unrelated to the cyber threat when sharing data with the government. Finally, witnesses at a hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence confirmed earlier this year that companies can strip out personally identifiably information that is not necessary to address cyber threats, and CISPA omits any requirement that reasonable efforts be undertaken to do so.

We continue to oppose CISPA and encourage you to vote ‘no.’


Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Association of Law Libraries
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for National Security Studies
Center for Rights
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Constitution Project
Council on American-Islamic Relations
CREDO Action
Daily Kos
Defending Dissent Foundation
Demand Progress, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
Free Press Action Fund
Government Accountability Project
Liberty Coalition
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
New American Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
Tech Freedom

[GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]

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