Washington D.C. — Congress today passed a cyber surveillance bill before the vast majority of Members of Congress were able to read it. President Obama threatened to veto the original “cyber information sharing” proposal known as CISPA in 2013 and 2014. The idea was reanimated in this Congress and widely divergent bills were passed in both chambers. Rather than form a Conference Committee, bill sponsors rewrote the bill in secret and added it to the “must-pass” omnibus spending bill as the Cyber Security Act of 2015.
“We’re all feeling a collective sense of deja vu. This is like a bad sequel where we all know the ending, but shouting at the characters doesn’t change anything. Just like the USA PATRIOT Act, CISA was a collection of old ideas that Congress had repeatedly rejected. And just like the PATRIOT Act, they re-wrote the final bill in secret and snuck it through Congress before most people could even read it. And just like the PATRIOT Act, CISA will be used for far more than members of Congress think that they are authorizing. Ultimately this will be embarrassing for Congress,” said Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now.
“Congress played games to pass cyber-surveillance legislation under the radar of the public. They negotiated in secret and renamed this bill in an attempt to remove stigma. Then they added it to unrelated, must-pass legislation,” said Drew Mitnick, policy counsel at Access Now. “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.”
Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager, Access Now