The U.S. Senate just passed the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that the tech industry largely hates, by a vote of 74 to 21.
The bill’s stated purpose is “to improve cybersecurityin the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.”
In layman’s terms, the idea is to allow private companies to share information about cybersecurity threats with the federal government without fear of violating privacy laws protecting personal data. Then, in theory, the information could be used by the government to spread warnings of vulnerabilities or even used by law enforcement in “preventing, investigating, or prosecuting” a number of crimes including violent felonies and identity theft.
However, the bill has come under fire, withtech companiesanddigital rights advocatesstrongly opposing measures that they claim would increase government spyingwithout meaningfully improving cybersecurity.
Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (Democrat) and Rand Paul (Republican) have both come out against the bill, with Paul’s campaigncreating a petition to stop it.
While Sanders voted against the bill, Pauldid not vote.
Republican presidential candidates Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio also did not vote on the bill. Ted Cruz is unaligned on the billwhile Rubio supports it.
The Senate also rejected 6 amendments to the bill. One amendment, proposed by Tom Cotton (R-AR), would have allowed the transfer of potential threatsdirectly to the FBIand Secret Service, rather than passing through the Department of Homeland Security. The amendment’s rejection was in line with the White House’s recommendation that the Department of Homeland Security be made the center for distribution of the information shared.
The other five rejected amendments sought greater privacy protections such as theWyden amendment(voted 41-55) which sought for parties to remove personal information before sharing threat information and theCoons amendment(voted 41-54) which also sought to limit shared information. The rejectedLeahy amendment(voted 37-59) sought to kill an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act that would keep received information private from public requests.