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CDT: Cybersecurity bills raise major civil liberties concerns

Grant Gross | April 5, 2012
A group of cybersecurity bills that the U.S. Congress may soon vote on contain serious privacy and civil liberties flaws, with some of the bills allowing private companies to share a wide range of their customers' online communications with government agencies, the Center for Democracy and Technology said.

CDT officials raised similar concerns about the Secure IT Act, a bill sponsored by eight Republican senators, including Senator John McCain of Arizona. The McCain bill requires some federal IT contractors to share broad cybersecurity information with the government, CDT said.

Representatives of Rogers and McCain did not immediately return messages seeking comment on CDT's concerns.

With bipartisan support for cybersecurity legislation, there's a growing pressure in Congress to move forward with a handful of bills, CDT's Harris said. Leaders in the House have designated the week of April 23 as cybersecurity week, with votes on the Rogers bill and the Precise Act, another information-sharing bill with fewer civil liberties concerns, she said.

CDT also raised some concerns about the Precise Act, an information-sharing bill sponsored by Representative Dan Lungren, a California Republican, and the Cybersecurity Act, sponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent.

The Lungren bill more narrowly defines what information can be shared between private companies and the government than the Rogers bill, CDT said. But the bill raises concerns because it allows Internet service providers to monitor their subscribers' communications, and it may allow companies to deploy broad countermeasures against cyberattacks, CDT said.

The Lieberman bill also allows ISPs to monitor subscriber communications, and it allows companies to modify or block traffic to protect against "any action" that could compromise their IT systems, CDT said.

 

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