New Cybersecurity Bill Could Infringe on Your Privacy and Destroy Net Neutrality

cybersecurity-bannerAmerican citizens are not only having to fight a battle for the future of the internet with the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission but they will also have to do battle with their elected officials.

A new bill that’s going through the Senate threatens to almost eliminate your data privacy and kill net neutrality at the same time.

The new bill is a bipartisan effort from the Senate Intelligence Committee sponsored by Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). It’s called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014. It’s all about the sharing of information by private entities with the government.

The problem is that this bill defines cybersecurity risks so broadly that almost all data on the internet could be at risk of being shared with the government. The bill encourages private companies to share cybersecurity data with government entities and the government will share their data with those companies in return.

While the bill, in its current form, has a provision that requires companies to scrub data that identifies a person from the data. However, that doesn’t mean that scads of data won’t still be taken. This part of the bill seems to legalize the massive cyberdata mining operation that the NSA undertook with the aid of various companies. Rather than being a shady invasion of privacy, it will be a legal shady invasion of privacy.

The concern is that the voluntarily shared data will allow for government law enforcement to get around normal warrant and wiretap procedures in the courts to get access to your data. While I know I just mentioned the NSA, this bill will allow data sharing to various government agencies beyond the NSA, including police.

CISA also creates a legal means to get around net neutrality rules. The bill defines a cybersecurity threat as “anything that makes information unavailable or less available.” Companies are allowed to deploy their own countermeasures against cybersecurity threats. Consumer advocates believe that high-bandwidth websites could be slowed down to allow other data through and at higher speeds.

As the FCC is allowing for companies to buy faster service from ISPs, this bill could destroy net neutrality. With ISPs given carte blanche to determine cybersecurity threats and determine their own actions to combat it, they could easily throttle websites such as YouTube, Netflix and more just because they would be deemed to make information less available.

While the FCC’s proceedings over future net neutrality rules have been getting quite a bit of attention, CISA has been out for two weeks now and I haven’t heard the same outcry over it. Apparently, the speed of the internet and the possibility that ISPs could greatly increase fees is a much bigger deal than privacy and a legal workaround for net neutrality.

I’d say that I’m fortunate to be in Canada but our communications regulator has so little teeth that my prices keep going up and service gets worse but I have no legal recourse against my ISP. They don’t need laws to screw us over.

Sources: Motherboard (1), NextGov, Motherboard (2)

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About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on June 30, 2014, in Tech and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for the update. I’ll have to do some more investigation into this and send Saxby Chambliss a little “cut it out” letter.

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