The drama surrounding the various cybersecurity bills floating around Congress is never ending. CISPA passed the House, but what’s next? The controversial bill will head to the Senate, but they have their own cybersecurity bill to deal with – the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.
When the White House came out against CISPA last month, they offered their support for the CSA. They said that it offered better protection of personal privacy than CISPA. That may be true, but it’s still not good enough according to Sen. Ron Wyden.
Speaking to The Hill, Wyden says that the CSA is similar to CISPA in that it “subordinate(s) all existing privacy rules and constitutional principles to the poorly defined interest of ‘cybersecurity.'” He says that the bill should be more specific about what kind of data can be shared between corporations and government. He also argues that it should companies should be not be able to get legal immunity so easily.
Wyden’s remarks jive with the argument that the ACLU made last week. Their main contention was also in regards to how the bill can essentially ignore privacy laws. The ACLU addressed another point of the bill that Wyden neglected to mention though. CSA allows the government to share the data they collect with any governmental agency including the NSA.
Where Wyden really hits it home, however, is when he says that the debate over CISPA and CSA is just like the debate from earlier this year on SOPA and PIPA. He says that both of these debates presented a “false choice” to congressmen. They either had to choose one or the other. Those in support of the bill argue that being for privacy rights make a congressman also in support of cyberterrorism. There is no middle ground, only extremes. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only way of debate in Washington these days.
Wyden has a tough fight ahead of him though. Even though it seems more and more likely that CISPA will die in the Senate, CSA will probably pass in some form or another. The White House seems all too willing to sign the CSA into law so that’s where we’re obviously in trouble.
As always, if you feel particularly strong about this issue, you can contact your senator via ACLU’s contact form. I received a pretty standard issue reply from Sen. Rand Paul when I sent one in, but maybe you’ll have better luck. At least it lets them know that their constituents, the ones that voted them in, are watching their every move.