Loyal District Dispatch readers know that, literally for years, ALA and a strong coalition of groups and companies from across the political spectrum have been fighting privacy-unfriendly “cybersecurity,” aka “information” sharing, legislation most recently unveiled as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754). CISA was meant merely to incentivize companies like internet service providers to share hints of “cyber-threats” with the government by shielding them from liability for doing so. The bill has been consistently and rightly criticized, however, for seriously compromising all of our personal privacy and for creating de facto new surveillance programs for the NSA and FBI.
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Until very recently, those serious defects and strong grassroots efforts by ALA and many others kept CISA and its legislative predecessors from passing. In recent weeks, however, the Chairs of the powerful House and Senate Committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security secretly negotiated a compromise version of their several “information sharing” bills that the White House signaled it could approve if passed.
Late last night, that language — now as bad or worse than it’s ever been from a privacy perspective – was slipped as a “rider” by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan into the 2000+ page “omnibus” spending bill that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown. A vote on the omnibus is slated to take place Thursday just before Congress leaves town for the holidays.
Librarians and other civil liberties organizations may lose this fight, but we needn’t and shouldn’t go quietly! Join ALA President Sari Feldman in protesting this undemocratic deal.
The odds are long and time is tight, so tweets and emails are sweet. Please, click here to send one to your Member of Congress. It’s already set to ask him or her to tell Speaker Ryan that middle-of-the-night deals that give the NSA new surveillance tools have no place in the omnibus, and that it’s not too late for the Speaker to #StopCISA .
Your voice matters. Get mad and get LOUD, right now!