WASHINGTON, DC––Thursday night a group of Internet freedom activists gathered outside the U.S. Capitol building to send a clear message to Congress using glowing light-up signs: "NO CISA."
See PHOTOS here: http://imgur.com/a/kaUYl
(These photos are available for use by press, please credit to Fight for the Future.)
The "NO CISA" protest outside Congress was organized on 24 hours notice by Fight for the Future, CODEPINK, Restore the Fourth, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Council, Defending Dissent, and Bill of Rights Defense Committee who reacted quickly when news broke that the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was moving on the Senate floor.
While Web activists gathered IRL in Washington, DC, tens of thousands more are speaking out online. In recent weeks Fight for the Future alone has driven tens of thousands of phone calls and emails to Congress opposing the bill through their action page DecideTheFuture.org, which also features interactive scorecards grading both members of Congress and major U.S. tech companies on their positions on privacy issues.
The hashtag #CISA has also been completely flooded with tweets opposing the bill.
Back in July, the Fight for the Future and other groups generated more than 6.2 million faxes to members of Congress, although it appears that the Senate may have blocked or otherwise lost the vast majority of them, a disturbing footnote given the disconnect between Congress’ discussions of the bill and the overwhelming public opposition.
"The U.S. government’s deplorable surveillance programs and pathetic cybersecurity have already severely damaged the public’s trust in tech companies and their members of Congress," said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, "If they choose to ignore the blatantly overwhelming opposition to this bill and pass it anyway, that damage could become irreparable. This moment will go down in history, and politicians need to decide which side of history they want to be on: the side that fought for freedom or the side that gave it away."
The bill, which has been lambasted by security experts, privacy activists, and major tech companies, would give corporations legal immunity to share data with the U.S. government, a move that experts say would not prevent cyber attacks but could enable sweeping new levels of government surveillance.
A final vote is expected on Tuesday.
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 constituents 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