The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) is terrible piece of legislation that despite being opposed by pretty much every major tech firm, is being pushed through Senate as I write, and is likely to pass within the next 24 to 48 hours unless the public can head this off with a mass show of popular opposition.
The Bill aims at making it easier for companies to share their users’ data directly between themselves and the US government. In order to do this, it gives them broad powers to monitor their systems and to collect data on their users.
It then allows them to freely share this information directly with other companies, and everyone from local police departments to the NSA without any further oversight (currently any such sharing of information had to be approved by the Department of Homeland Security.)
In addition to this, the Bill removes many restrictions on what companies can do with data for non-cybersecurity purposes, while at the same time preventing the public leaning how their data is being used by exempting companies from disclosing this information under the Freedom of Information Act.
CISA in effect gives corporations a carte-blanche to do what they want with customers’ data, as long as they can claim it is done for “cybersecurity purposes”. However, as “cybersecurity purposes” is so loosely defined as to be meaningless, CISA effectively allows companies to do what they want with the data.
Defenders of the Bill point to the fact that all of its sharing provisions are “voluntary” on the part of companies, but as Wired observes, the US government has a history of coercing companies into divulging “voluntary” information.
Furthermore, if other companies are gaining a competitive advantage by sharing information between themselves, even the staunchest opponents to CISA will be forced to participate if they wish to keep up with their competitors.
At present, it seems that despite massive opposition from both the tech industry and the general public, CISA is likely to pass into law. With only a few hours left to oppose the Bill, we strongly encourage our US readers (especially) to lobby your Senators, and make your opposition to this terrible assault on your privacy known. See Fight for the Future and EFF Action for more details on what you can to help.