Homeland Security admits CISA info-sharing bill could ‘sweep away’ privacy protections

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
By Paul Martin

4 Aug, 2015

The deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has admitted that a new cybersecurity bill could “sweep away” privacy protections, adding that it raises privacy and civil liberties concerns. The bill could hit the Senate floor this week.

Responding to a July query from Minnesota Senator Al Franken, DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that some provisions of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) “could sweep away important privacy protections” and that proposed legislation “raises privacy and civil liberties concerns.”

The bill authorizes companies to share information about cyber threats with “any federal entity.” Any company participating in the data sharing would be immune from consumer lawsuits.

If passed, it would mean that sectors of the federal government would begin to receive, store, and circulate sensitive information. The data would be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosures.

Opponents of the bill have argued that minimal requirements are in place for businesses to erase personal information before circulating cyber threat information – dubbed “cyber threat indicators” – before sharing that data with the government.

This has led to worries that such data could include a range of personal details including credit card histories, lists of goods purchased, and healthcare records.

Privacy activists have dubbed CISA the “Darth Vader bill,” citing concerns about the legal immunity that companies would receive under the legislation.

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