For months, we’ve been raising the alarm about the serious civil liberties implications of the cybersecurity bills making their way through the Senate. Hours ago, we received some good news.
A new bill called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S 3414) is replacing the prior Lieberman-Collins Cybersecurity Act (S 2150). This new bill drastically improves upon the previous bill by addressing the most glaring privacy concerns. This is huge, and it’s thanks to the outcry of Internet users like you worried about their online privacy. Check out the new bill (PDF).
Make no mistake – we remain unpersuaded that any of the proposed cybersecurity measures are necessary and we still have concerns about certain sections of the bill, especially the sections on monitoring and countermeasures. But this was a big step in the direction of protecting online rights, and we wouldn’t be here without the support of Internet users contacting Congress in droves.
- Ensuring that only civilian agencies—not the National Security Agency—are in charge of our nation’s cybersecurity systems. Let’s face it, we don’t want the agency that’s been spearheading the illegal warrantless wiretapping program for over 11 years to be charged with protecting citizens’ privacy interests in the realm of cybersecurity.
- Ensuring data isn’t shared with law enforcement except in very specific, limited circumstances. Language in the first Lieberman-Collins Cybersecurity Act would have allowed data collected under cybersecurity purposes to be passed to law enforcement if there was evidence of criminal activity. This raised major concerns about our online service providers snooping through our communications for potentially incriminating data and passing it to the government without a warrant—a digital Big Brother. The new language of the bill limits data flowing to the government to information which appears to pertain to 1. A cybersecurity crime investigation; 2. An imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm; and 3. A serious threat to minors, like sexual exploitation and threats to physical safety.