In January, Rare interviewed Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) about his newly introduced cybersecurity bill, where he explained that anti-privacy language resembling the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) was snuck into the end-of-year omnibus bill passed just before Christmas.
Amash’s bill, which has several bipartisan cosponsors, seeks to repeal the CISA provisions that he believes many of his colleagues unknowingly supported. The unrelated spying language was snuck into the 2,009 page spending bill, which was haphazardly cobbled together to avoid a government shutdown.
On Monday, a strong coalition of eighteen groups from across the political spectrum came together in support of Amash’s legislation.
Groups in favor of the bill include libertarian-leaning organizations such as FreedomWorks, R Street Institute, and Campaign For Liberty, along with their more liberal counterparts such as the ACLU, Demand Progress, and The Center for Democracy & Technology. Organizations focused highly on tech with less of an overt political streak such have also joined the cause.
The letter, which has been sent to members of Congress, states:
“As we and others have stated consistently, these [CISA] provisions are unlikely to increase the government’s ability to detect, intercept and thwart cyber attacks, yet they institute broad and undefined data-collection capabilities that are certain to undermine government accountability and further erode privacy protections.”
The coalition letter lists the top five provisions they take issue with in the cybersecurity bill that was folded into the omnibus. They explain that the language creates, “a new avenue through which the government will receive personally identifiable information and communications content, expanding surveillance on innocent Americans.”
They are also opposed to “the immunity from liability for companies that unnecessarily share private user information with the government and other companies,” along with the fact that “no reasonable limits” have been placed on “the type of information that can be shared, such as individuals’ personal online communications.”
Also troubling to coalition members is the fact that CISA authorizes law enforcement to use the information collected “for purposes unrelated to cybersecurity, including the investigation and prosecution of unrelated crimes.” These groups take issue with an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act the federal government would be provided, along with a “preemption of state and local laws on disclosure that seriously undermine government accountability and transparency.”
Ultimately, the coalition believes that daylight is the best disinfectant:
“Questions of cybersecurity and privacy should be debated openly in a manner that allows legislators and the public to criticize and participate. These questions should not be obscured by backroom deals that exclude critical perspectives and due process, and that many security experts have argued could result in worse security problems and worse privacy violations than before.”
The full coalition letter can be read below.