Controversial Cybersecurity Bill Makes It Into Omnibus, Will Basically Be Law Any Minute Now
By December 18, 2015
We are rapidly running out of 2015 left to spend, and so the two houses of Congress have been racing to pass an omnibus spending bill that will keep the government funded and the lights on. Because that bill is a must-pass piece of legislation, all kinds of crap has been added, taken away, and snuck back in as we come down to the wire. Among the other bills that have been tacked on is a controversial piece of cybersecurity legislation that has privacy and consumer advocates worried all around.
The bill in question is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (S. 754), called CISA. Wirednoticed late Wednesday that CISA had snuck into the latest, and final, version of the bill.
CISA is supposed to enhance cybersecurity, in the wake of all the hacks and breaches we’ve become used to living with, by promoting data-sharing. But that sharing concerns privacy advocates, because it’s functionally limitless… and also funnels straight to the NSA.
As Wired reports, the language that made it into the omnibus is actually even worse than the last version of CISA we saw clear the Senate earlier this year. The new edition allows for agencies like the FBI and the National Intelligence director to create online portals, where companies will hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence instead of first going through Homeland Security. The omnibus version also changes the permission for sharing from “imminent threat” to “specific threat,” meaning that timeliness is no longer a factor and agencies can search or cherry pick data for any specific terms.
The EFF continues to oppose the language, as do other advocacy groups, but the omnibus easily passed in the House and then the Senate earlier today, and is headed to President Obama’s desk as quickly as possible, where it will be signed and become law.
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