Privacy activists have badly damaged CISA, now seen by many as a sinking ship, while major tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Yelp, and reddit also oppose
After months of delay caused by public outcry and opposition from tech companies, the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) is finally on the Senate floor.
In response to the news, digital rights group Fight for the Future announced plans to launch an Internet Defense League action, rallying tens of thousands of websites to raise the alarm about the bill, which has been roundly condemned by security experts, privacy advocates, and major tech companies as failing to prevent cyber attacks while opening the door for sweeping new levels of governments surveillance.
The Internet Defense League (IDL) is a network of more than 15,000 websites who have installed a code that allows them to display an alert message to their users whenever there is an urgent threat or opportunity related to Internet freedom. Founded after the massive protests against SOPA, the IDL has opposed previous bills similar to CISA, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The IDL also maintains a list of Twitter users who have opted in to spread the league’s messages, with more than 19,000 people signed up to allow Fight for the Future to tweet urgent action messages on their behalf.
"It’s outrageous that Congress is even considering passing a law that would further erode Internet users’ privacy and security at a time when both are already so fragile," said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, "CISA’s supporters have repeatedly claimed that the tech industry needs this legislation, but now nearly every major tech company has come out opposing it, not only because they know it won’t stop cyber attacks, but also because it’s supremely unpopular with their users. Congress should remember that those users are also voters.”
Fight for the Future and a coalition of other advocacy groups have lead a series of high profile campaigns sparking massive public outrage against the bill. Earlier this year they launched Operation: #FaxBigBrother, generating more than 6 million faxes to Senate offices lambasting CISA with the message that "Congress is stuck in 1984." They also launched a legislative "scoreboard" that grades every member of Congress on their recent surveillance voting record and encourages visitors to contact their lawmakers to oppose CISA.
The grassroots campaigns have sparked an avalanche of opposition from the tech industry as well. Over the weekend Twitter, Yelp, reddit, and Wikipedia weighed in against CISA. Last week, CCIA, an industry association representing tech giants Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Sprint, and others, also issued a statement slamming the bill. Mozilla, imgur, Wordpress, Craigslist, Namecheap, and hundreds of other companies have opposed CISA and similar information sharing legislation in the past.
Last month, the Business Software Alliance, which represents Apple, Microsoft, and other major tech companies, clarified that it does not support any of the three information sharing bills before Congress after Fight for the Future ran a public campaign called YouBetrayedUs that spurred a flurry of angry emails from consumers targeting companies that signed a BSA letter that appeared to support CISA. The group also initiated a boycott of Heroku, the webhosting service owned by Salesforce, which prompted Salesforce’s CEO to take to twitter condemning the BSA letter and saying his company opposes CISA.
The group continued to make headlines by calling for the CEO of Experian to resign over his company’s support for CISA after a devastating hack exposed the private data of 15 million T-Mobile customers. Just yesterday, following a viral AP story about Hillary Clinton’s cybersecurity failings as Secretary of State, Fight for the Future launched a petition calling for her to state her position on CISA, noting that her opponent Bernie Sanders opposes the bill.
Fight for the Future and a large coalition of other groups are watching CISA’s progress closely and are preparing for a final showdown on the Senate floor. Senators that expect to maintain their constuents trust would do well to take note of the rising level of opposition to this toxic legislation, which is now only supported by a few self-interested corporations and lawmakers who have a track record of voting to expand and maintain unpopular government surveillance programs.
Fight for the Future is a grassroots advocacy group with more than 1.4 million members that fights to protect the Internet as a powerful platform for freedom of expression and social change. They’re best known for organizing the massive online protests against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more at https://www.fightforthefuture.org and https://www.twitter.com/fightfortheftr