Privacy SOS

Sneaky attempt to slip surveillance bill into military spending bill fails in the senate

Today the Senate defeated an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have tacked controversial dragnet spying legislation onto the omnibus military appropriations authorization.

Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey voted against the amendment, warning that as written, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) "could open a floodgate of information sharing that would jeopardize Americans’ privacy and put their personal information at risk. This legislation would have made it easier for the government to access personal information of innocent Americans as well as for private companies to monitor Americans’ online activities," he said. "I was proud to vote against this harmful amendment that sacrifices Americans’ privacy under the guise of security.  While the Senate should enact strong cybersecurity legislation, there should be an opportunity for Senators to offer amendments that ensure any legislation we pass appropriately protects Americans’ privacy.”

In its current form, CISA allows the FBI to use information collected without warrants in routine criminal prosecutions. It also allows corporations to dump huge quantities of private user information into data pools accessible by other companies and even the government. In short, if passed it would be the biggest expansion of warrantless surveillance since 2008, when congress approved the Fisa Amendments Act, providing congressional cover for the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell's sneaky attempt to slip CISA into the NDAA failed, but like its predecessor CISPA, CISA is the bad surveillance legislation that refuses to die. It'll be back. Take action now to say no to this massive expansion of the surveillance state.

© 2018 ACLU of Massachusetts.