Senate leaders rush end-run on personal privacy

Apparently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) learned nothing from the overwhelming outpouring of opposition to the worst of the USA PATRIOT Act earlier this month. They’re using the Senate Rules to try to ram through – as early as tomorrow – privacy-hostile legislation that’s received no public hearing or Senate floor debate as an amendment to a Department of Defense funding measure. The bill, innocuously dubbed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (“CISA”), would expose enormous amounts of your personal data to federal, state, and even local law enforcement … without a warrant. Along with many coalition partners, ALA strongly opposed CISA in a letter to Senate leaders last March.

Digital screen with lock icon displayed

Photo by Yuri Samoilov

Sometimes, you just can’t explain anything better than a colleague, and Gabe Rottman of the ACLU’s Washington Office spoke up yesterday (with many links to detailed background information) about this issue and the immediate procedural threat in the Senate:

“So, what does the bill . . . do? It’s a surveillance bill, pure and simple. It says that any and all privacy laws, including laws requiring a warrant for electronic communications, and those that protect financial, health or even video rental records, do not apply when companies share ‘cybersecurity’ information, broadly defined, with the government.”

Please, take a minute to read his “Playing Politics With Cybersecurity and Privacy” now. Then, take just 60 more seconds to contact your Senators immediately with a simple message:

“VOTE NO on the ‘Burr Amendment’ to the defense bill – or on any such “information sharing” bill without full public hearings and Senate debate.”

About Adam Eisgrau

Adam Eisgrau is a former managing director of the Office of Government Relations.

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