Background: Over the past year, the openness community has joined privacy and civil liberties groups in fighting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), legislation that undermines transparency and enhances surveillance while doing little to improve the government’s ability to combat cyber threats. Transparency advocates fought the bill, and with the help of Senators Patrick Leahy, John Cornyn, and Charles Grassley, successfully opposed harmful provisions that would have created a new and unnecessary exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
What is Happening Now: Following the passage of CISA, a conference committee was expected to be set-up to negotiate the legislation with the related House cybersecurity bills. Now, however, the House and Senate intelligence committees are working on new language for the cybersecurity legislation in secret – language that already includes a new, troubling restriction on public access to certain cyber threat indicator information shared between the federal government and state, local, and tribal governments. Some sources indicate that the new compromise text largely includes language from the House Intelligence Committee, which is reportedly trying to pressure House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul to bypass the conference committee process and approve the Intel Committees-developed bill.
What you can do:
Now is the time for supporters of open government, privacy rights, and civil liberties to make our voices heard.
Tweet at Rep. McCaul — The Electronic Frontier Foundation created a tool that allows Twitter users to quickly and easily tweet at Rep. McCaul and encourage him to stand strong against the new language negotiated in secret, particularly in its handling of FOIA and access to information.
Reach Out to Speaker Paul Ryan — Tell him that, given the broad implications of CISA and the secretive nature of the process, it should be considered on its own merits by the conference committee and not folded into an omnibus bill.
Call, write, and/or tweet at your representatives, and voice your opposition to the secret conference process. C-SPAN compiled a list of the Twitter handles of all Members of Congress here.