With a surprisingly vote of most votees in favour, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) has controversially passed in the United States senate.
The final senate vote on Tuesday afternoon was 74 to 21, passing with ease and clearing the path for the bill to become law.
The whole purpose of CISA is supposed to be to prevent the rising trend of corporate data breaches, by allowing companies to share data with the Department of Homeland Security who would then in turn most likely share it with other agencies like the NSA or FBI to help defend the company and others under attack.
At first glance you are probably wondering why so many were against this bill? If it helps companies like Sony or insurance companies track down those responsible for corporate attacks, surely it is a good thing, right?
The concerns which come from organisations like the EFF, civil liberties groups and privacy advocates centre around companies potentially sharing data with government security agencies without a warrant.
The bill theoretically allows companies to legally monitor their users activities and then ship the data off to the government without a worry in the world as the bill protects companies from any privacy breaches.
But there is the question of, why would a company willingly want to give an agency like the NSA access to user data without even being asked for it first or given a valid reason?
There is speculation that the government might make you opt into a program that requires data being shared in exchange for help if you ever need it. Although no such provision exists in the bill, it is a very valid concern.
Could the government resort to mafia style tactics to obtain data? All data supplied is voluntary, but if uncle Sam is making you an offer you can’t refuse, would you forgo the opportunity or give in? Do you think Sony would object if they were presented with such an ultimatum?
A plethora of amendments introduced which would have narrowed the scope of the bill, more specifically defining what the term, “cybersecurity threat” means and removing personal information from data were all voted down into senate hell.
In this day and age where attacks on corporations are all too common, will data sharing prevent these attacks? Definitely not. Companies like Apple, Reddit, Twitter and a whole heap of other companies have all publicly opposed CISA.
If CISA was really as good as the government and its supporters claim it is, wouldn’t it be in the best interests of companies like Apple and Twitter to support CISA? Something does not add up here. If companies in charge of keeping your data safe think CISA won’t achieve this, some warning bells are going off here.
While there is still a long road ahead to passing CISA into law, there is a good chance it will happen. Even though most of Silicon Valley don’t want it, the EFF don’t want it and a whole wide array of detractors don’t want it, you have to wonder who the bill is really for and who actually wants it.