The U.S. Senate has voted in favor of the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) bill, with proponents of the view insisting that this legislation will help fight the growing insecurity issues.
The CISA bill will now allow the government, through the Department of Homeland Security, to collect sensitive personal information from tech companies without any restrictions. This is something that civil liberties groups as well as the many tech companies that are affected by the legislation, were very much against; however, the voting process has proved otherwise.
It was expected that Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul will be present to cast his vote thanks to the fact that he has made the issue of privacy from surveillance a core aspect of his campaign. However, just like many other Republican presidential hopefuls (apart from Lindsey Graham who voted in favor of the bill), he was not present to cast his vote on the CISA bill.
A chorus of critics didn’t shake the Senate’s position
Before the Senate jumped into this voting mode, a group of the bill’s critics led by tech law university professors from Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy urged the senate to vote against the bill through an open letter. According to the letter, if passed, the new bill would be undermining the Freedom of Information Act.
The group of professors is not the only one that was against this bill. There is also another group of tech companies that are also affected by this bill; among them Apple, Google and Microsoft. In a tweet made by Edward Snowden, the NSA’s whistleblower, he pointed out that “voting in favor of the CISA bill is voting against the internet”.
This is true because with CISA in place, tech companies will be forced to “voluntarily” share private information with government agencies and in the end allow “secret and ad hoc privacy invasions” without considering the privacy concerns of all U.S. citizens, the professors said.
Even though many companies are against this bill, there are still some who favor it. For instance, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has no issue with this bill and in congratulating the move by the senate; the TIA posted a statement saying that “the legislation bolsters our cyber security by encouraging voluntary sharing of cyber-threat data or information with the government”. The company further urged the Congressional leaders to move swiftly and pass the bill to the President so that everything can be finalized.