The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has issued a new warning to Americans about a law to open up the gates for government overreach and secrecy.
In a post entitled, “Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill,” the ACLU’s Sandra Fulton warns that the bill “poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws.”
From the post:
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (‘CISA’) was scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but has been delayed until after next week’s congressional recess. The response to the proposed legislation from the privacy, civil liberties, tech, and open government communities was quick and unequivocal – this bill must not go through.
“The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws by allowing the government to ask companies for ‘voluntary’ cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called ‘cybersecurity information’ is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans’ personal data.
“The Fourth Amendment protects Americans’ personal data and communications from undue government access and monitoring without suspicion of criminal activity. The point of a warrant is to guard that protection. CISA would circumvent the warrant requirement by allowing the government to approach companies directly to collect personal information, including telephonic or internet communications, based on the new broadly drawn definition of ‘cybersecurity information.'”
In other words, because you’ve already given companies like Google and Facebook power over your data, the government could swoop in and broadly collect that info, which should be protected by warrant, without any suspicion that you’ve done something wrong.
The ACLU believes that this law is to weed out whistleblowers, so that the government can basically get away with more than it does now without fear of another Edward Snowden happening.
And if you think President Obama has your best interests at heart, the ACLU warns otherwise: “The Obama Administration has brought more ‘leaks’ prosecutions against government whistleblowers and members of the press than all previous administrations combined,” the agency writes. “If misused by this or future administrations, CISA could eliminate due process protections for such investigations, which already favor the prosecution.”
Here’s the full text of the bill.
What do you think, readers? Is the ACLU right in assuming that CISA will be a blow against whistleblowers? Have you lost your faith in government? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
[Image via ShutterStock]