Access Now denounces inclusion of CISA text in omnibus spending bill

Washington, D.C. — Access Now denounces a new deal by the U.S. Congress to slip the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), now renamed the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, into the must-pass omnibus spending bill. Yet again, Congressional leadership is using shortcuts in an attempt to pass the privacy-invasive surveillance bill without the public knowing what’s going on.

The now-retitled Cybersecurity Act of 2015 grants companies broad protection against lawsuits when they share private user data with the government. Security, technology, and human rights experts widely recognize that the bill will do little to protect users online. Even tech companies and a government agency have taken issue with the draft law.

“Congressional leadership is subverting fair process in order to pass a surveillance bill under the false flag of cybersecurity. Members of Congress are now mostly alone, though determined, in supporting passage of this legislation. For users, this is the worst case scenario,” said Drew Mitnick, policy counsel at Access Now.

In recent weeks, members of Congress in the intelligence committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives have secretly negotiated a deal get CISA passed. However, the deal unfortunately reflects the surveillance focus of the version from the Senate. The final version of the bill reportedly weakens requirements to remove personal information, grants broader liability protection to companies, and contains fewer limits on the way law enforcement can use information for reasons other than cybersecurity. While not good, other versions of the bill had more protections for individuals’ privacy.

“Congress is playing games to pass cyber-surveillance legislation under the radar of the public. They have negotiated mostly in secretive intelligence committees, and have renamed this bill in an attempt to remove stigma. Now, they are attempting to insert it into unrelated, must-pass legislation,” continued Mitnick. “This shows disrespect for the people whose privacy is at stake in this process, and who deserve real cybersecurity, not more surveillance. Simply put, we expect more from our elected leadership.”

Media contact
Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager, Access Now
[email protected]