Sunday, March 11, 2012

ACLU warns of expanded spying powers in new GOP cybersecurity legislation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is warning that a cybersecurity bill from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans would give spy agencies unprecedented powers to snoop through people’s personal information. McCain's bill, the Secure IT Act, would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with government agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command. "The bill would allow the NSA to collect the Internet records of civilians who are not suspected of doing anything wrong," Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU, told The Hill. "The military has no place in collecting civilian domestic Internet information," Richardson said. Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argued that from a civil liberties perspective, the McCain bill is actually slightly better than the Lieberman bill. He explained that the under the McCain bill, companies only have immunity if the information they share is related to a cybersecurity threat. Under the Lieberman bill, the companies have immunity if they have a "good faith belief" that the information is related to a cybersecurity threat. Radia said he expects that if either bill becomes law, government agencies will pressure companies to turn over as much information as possible. "Any granting of immunity would be used by the government as an excuse to coerce companies into disclosing information," Radia said...more

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