Groups Opposing Senate Cybersecurity Legislation Urge Adoption of Helpful Amendments

On October 23, more than two dozen open government, civil liberties, and privacy groups joined The Constitution Project in sending a letter to the Senate to express opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, and to urge the passage the proposed amendments from Senator Leahy and Senator Franken. The groups say both amendments are essential to ensure that the legislation does not increase the difficulty and complexity of information sharing or threaten the integrity of the Freedom of Information Act.

The groups emphasized the importance of preserving the Judiciary Committee’s exclusive jurisdiction over FOIA, and stresses that new exemptions should be enacted only after full and fair consideration by the Committee, through proceedings that are open to the public. The Leahy Amendment (No. 2587) would strike the new “b(3) exemption” from the bill, protecting the integrity of the FOIA framework in the process.

The groups also wrote that the definitions in the current version of CISA for “cybersecurity threat” and “cyber threat indicator” are unnecessarily broad. Technology and civil liberties groups have highlighted that CISA’s current definition for cybersecurity threat is vague and problematic: it includes some vague categories related to potential harms and “other attributes” that could lead to companies sharing unnecessary or inactionable content or personally identifiable information. Franken’s amendment (No. 2612) would clarify the definition for cybersecurity threat by establishing that an event or incident constitutes a threat – and triggers CISA’s authorizations – only if it is “reasonably likely to result in” harm.

Groups signing the letter along with TCP include American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, American Society of News Editors, New America’s Open Technology Institute, OpenTheGovernment.org, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Restore The Fourth, R Street and Society for Professional Journalists.

Although adoption of the two amendments would improve the legislation somewhat, TCP will continue to urge the Senate to defeat it.

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