Congress Adds 'CISA' To 'Omnibus' Budget Bill, Up To President Obama To Veto

The Fight for the Future civil liberties organization announced that CISA, the “surveillance bill by another name,” was added to the “must-pass” budget bill for next year as a way to make it virtually unstoppable.

Fight for the Future was one of the groups that has fought CISA since it was named CISPA, in its previous version. Earlier this year, the group led a series of online campaigns that eventually got companies such as Apple, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Yelp, and Salesforce to come out in opposition to the bill. The digital rights group has also mobilized 15,000 websites to protest against the bill and sent six million faxes to the Senate, as well as hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls.

Now, FFTF is calling on President Obama to keep his promise that he would veto any cybersecurity bill that doesn’t have proper privacy protections. CISA already had some weak privacy protections when it passed the Senate. Then, when it was merged with two other similar bills from the House, all of those privacy protections were completely removed.

The new bill would give the NSA the opportunity to “take lead” on getting the data directly from private companies, as opposed to the DHS doing so as a civil agency, and then passing a sanitized version of that data over to the NSA.

The bill also expands the liability protection companies get from sharing the data with the NSA or the DHS, which means there could be many more opportunities for abuse. When private companies know they have legal immunity when sharing whatever data the NSA or DHS asks of them, they could be much more likely to comply than if they were worried their users would sue them for sharing personal information without a warrant.

Fight for the Future launched a website called ObamaDecides.org, calling for the President to veto the CISA bill in any form:

“Now is when we’ll find out whether President Obama really cares about the Internet and freedom of speech, or whether he’s happy to roll over and allow technologically illiterate members of Congress break the Internet in the name of cybersecurity,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future.

“This administration promised to veto any information sharing bill that did not adequately protect Internet users’ privacy, and the final version of this bill doesn’t even come close. It’s time for President Obama to deliver on his word,” he added.

Congress is expected to vote the “omnibus” budget bill, which now includes CISA, in the coming week. FFTF’s online tool gives people the opportunity to sign up to be “daily callers” who will be prompted to call the White House every day until President Obama keep his promise and threatens to veto the whole bill if CISA remains included in the budget bill.

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Lucian Armasu joined Tom’s Hardware in early 2014. He writes news stories on mobile, chipsets, security, privacy, and anything else that might be of interest to him from the technology world. Outside of Tom’s Hardware, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

You can follow him at @lucian_armasu. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

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  • alextheblue
    I doubt he'll veto it unless there's something ELSE in there he actually doesn't like. He's all for NSA mass warrantless surveillance (whether directly or by making private companies collect and share). He only acts like he's not when someone like Snowden exposes what they're doing. Then it's "Oh I didn't know this was going on - I'm just the President! I first found out when I saw it on TV just like all you ignorant slobs, honest!"
  • thor220
    Why don't they just call this what is really is, the "we're totally getting bank lobby money" bill. First they try to shoehorn anti-net law into the bill and now this? What's next? Pay double fees to comcast because they have a monopoly?
  • zfreak280
    Of course Apple, Google, and Microsoft oppose this bill. They don't want government surveillance programs using bandwidth or resources from their own surveillance programs.