Facebook accused of privately supporting CISA

In a press release issued Saturday, internet advocacy group Fight for the Future claims that Facebook is privately supporting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), despite being a member of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a lobbying group that opposes the bill.

CISA, passed Tuesday in the Senate, exempts companies from prosecution for violating privacy laws if they share user data with government agencies to prevent “cybersecurity threats”.

On Monday, Facebook refuted Fight for the Future’s accusation in an email to SC Magazine, saying that they have “not been advocating privately or publicly for CISA,” but noted that “CCIA does not speak for us on this issue. We are not taking a position on the bill.”

Despite their denial, Fight for the Future has also learned that the company’s chief Senate lobbyist served as CISA’s sponsor Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) General Counsel prior to being hired by Facebook.

The connection was highlighted by Future’s co-director Tiffiniy Cheng:

“At a time when CISA is being rejected by the public, security experts, and even the tech industry it’s supposed to protect, it was suspicious that Congress is barreling forward with this bill at breakneck speed.”

CCIA’s members include Amazon, eBay, Google, Sprint, and Yahoo.

Business Software Alliance, another Washington lobbying firm whose associates include Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Dell, also oppose the measure.

Twitter, Yelp, reddit, and Wikipedia have also issued statements publicly opposing CISA in the last two weeks.

The Senate version of CISA allows any “cybersecurity threat” to be shared with government agencies “not withstanding any other provision of law.”

Beyond that, according to Robyn Greene of the Open Technology Institute, “Every law is struck down for the purposes of this information sharing: financial privacy, electronic communications privacy, health privacy, none of it would matter.”

All amendments brought to the Senate floor to strengthen the bill’s privacy provisions were voted down Tuesday. Sen. Burr argued in the bill’s defense that he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), “have bent over backwards to accommodate (privacy) concerns.”

Privacy advocates argue that the bill contains no language which prevents government agencies, primarily the Department of Homeland Security, from making participation in the program mandatory in exchange for protection from foreign cyber threats.

In August, the White House announced its support of CISA, when spokesman Eric Schultz said “the Senate should take up this bill as soon as possible and pass it.”

CISA will now be reconciled with companion legislation passed by the House in April, entitled the Protecting Cyber Networks Act.


[Fight for the Future] [Wired] [SC Magazine] [The Hill]