A U.S. Senator’s bill to broaden cybersecurity intelligence gathering is in trouble after other legislators question whether proposed protections comes at the expense of citizens’ privacy.
The bill introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to strengthen cybersecurity through better public-private information sharing is the latest congressional proposal to come into the crosshairs of civil liberties groups and privacy advocates. Their campaign to stop passage of the bill as it is currently written may be working, given statements released this week from Lieberman’s congressional counterparts.
“I have serious concerns about this bill,” Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) told the Web site Politico in a statement. “As written, the legislation moves aside decades of privacy laws to allow companies to freely monitor American citizens’ communications and give their personal information to the federal government — and grants companies near total immunity for doing so.”
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, “I think that the definitions have to be narrowed and the privacy safeguards have to be strengthened.” He, like some others, are concerned about the type of data companies turn over to the goverment may be misused or abused as the draft now exists.
Like other controversial bills in recent months, some lawmakers are concerned that current language allows too much private consumer information can be shared without impunity in the name of stopping cybercrimals. This Senate bill is similar to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by 80 votes last month.
Critics of CISPA, like Lieberman’s bill, voiced concern that companies could share their customer’s private data with any branch of government, including the military — which they say effectively amounts to spying on American citizens.
While Lieberman’s bill is running into trouble with some Democrats, it also is being met with skepticism by Republicans who question another provision on protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure. Published reports say some GOP senators don’t see the need for government to force operators to secure their systems.
These bills and others aim to better protect both public and private networks against cyberattacks by sharing intelligence gathered from myriad sources. To do so, lawmakers believe, companies need an incentive to share their proprietary data and government needs more authority to protect critical networks owned by private businesses.
Among the more vocal opponents to these cybersecurity bills is the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, TechFreedom, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Constitution Project.