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An anti-CISA demonstration outside the U.S. Capitol building on October 22, 2015. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

An anti-CISA demonstration outside the U.S. Capitol building on October 22, 2015.  (Photo: Fight for the Future)

Congress Reportedly Slipping CISA Spy Bill Into Must-Pass Omnibus

Privacy advocates calling on President Obama to veto the legislation, saying his legacy—and the future of the Internet—depend on it

Lauren McCauley

Update:

Following publication, Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, told Common Dreams that librarians are "proud to stand with groups from every part of the political spectrum to expose and oppose the latest legislative attempt to advance a new mass surveillance law."

"Shoehorning a new version of ‘CISA’ hostile to personal privacy into a massive omnibus spending bill is troubling as a matter of substance and process," Feldman added, saying the group calls on Congress "to reject this latest assault on privacy and democracy."

Earlier:

Digital rights groups are sounding the alarm after sources reportedly confirmed on Monday that the controversial cyber-surveillance bill formerly known as CISA has been slipped into the "must-pass" omnibus spending bill that Congress is expected to vote on later this week.

Fight for the Future, a leading digital rights group that has organized fierce grassroots resistance to CISA (otherwise known as Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) and similar bills, issued a statement saying that all eyes will be on President Barack Obama should the legislation reach his desk.

"Now is when we’ll find out whether President Obama really cares about the Internet and freedom of speech, or whether he’s happy to roll over and allow technologically illiterate members of Congress break the Internet in the name of cybersecurity," said the group's campaign director, Evan Greer.

Negotiators have been working to pass some version of the CISA bill, which would allow the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies, for more than three years.

After the Senate passed its Intelligence Committee-originated version in October, lawmakers have been trying meld that rule with two similar versions that recently passed in the House—amounting to a bill which critics warn is completely gutted of any privacy protections.

Now, citing "media reports and sources close to legislative negotiations," privacy advocates say that the legislation has been tacked on to the budget bill. According to The Hill, "Most observers believe the tactic gives the cyber bill its best shot of getting through Congress in 2015, as only a handful of legislative days remain before the upcoming recess."

Fight for the Future on Monday launched a petition campaign calling on the president to reject the bill, which it warns would allow "unlimited surveillance" thus destroying online privacy, make users more vulnerable to hackers, and eliminate any incentive that private technologies might have to improve cyber security.

"This administration promised to veto any information sharing bill that did not adequately protect Internet users’ privacy, and the final version of this bill doesn’t even come close," Greer continued.


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