Protecting our nation's cyber systems does not have to come at the cost of transparency and accountability is the message of 35 organizations that joined OpenTheGovernment.org last week on a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence. Unfortunately, however, the primary cybersecurity bill up for debate in the House makes just that terrible trade.
In the interest of encouraging companies to share cyber information with the federal government, the current version of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), HR 624, cuts off all public access to any information shared. As we have written about previously, such a provision is bad policy because it ignores that much of the truly sensitive information companies are likely to share is already protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and that the public will likely need access to at least some of the information in order to understand whether the government acted appropriately to protect our cyber systems against threats. Furthermore, as the terms used in the bill are defined in an incredibly broad manner, we have no way to know what types of information may be covered by this provision.
We continue to urge Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger to work with openness advocates and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has expertise in the FOIA, to craft a bill that protects both our cyber systems and openness and accountability.