Meet CISA – Dianne Feinstein’s Latest Attack On Privacy, Civil Liberties And The Internet

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

here’s not much good you can count on Congress to accomplish, but when it comes to introducing and passing oligarch protecting, civil liberties destroying legislation, our “representatives” are absolutely relentless in their determination. Unsurprisingly, the only “distinctly native American criminal class,” as Mark Twain described Congress, is at it again when it comes to institutionalizing spying and attempting a legal run around the Bill of Rights.

One thing that has become crystal clear since the Edward Snowden revelations, is that much of Congress has no problem at all with unconstitutional spying. Rather, they are primarily upset it was exposed and are dead set on making sure no other whistleblower can ever do the same. Enter CISA, or The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.

I’ve spent much of today reading about the bill, and have compiled what I think are the most astute observations. First, from the ACLU:

A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws.


“The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws by allowing the government to ask companies for ‘voluntary’ cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called ‘cybersecurity information’ is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans’ personal data.


“The Fourth Amendment protects Americans’ personal data and communications from undue government access and monitoring without suspicion of criminal activity. The point of a warrant is to guard that protection. CISA would circumvent the warrant requirement by allowing the government to approach companies directly to collect personal information, including telephonic or internet communications, based on the new broadly drawn definition of ‘cybersecurity information.’”


In addition to the threats to every American’s privacy, the bill clearly targets potential government whistleblowers. Instead of limiting the use of data collection to protect against actual cybersecurity threats, the bill allows the government to use the data in the investigation and prosecution of people for economic espionage and trade secret violations, and under various provisions of the Espionage Act.

The always excellent Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has also chimed in:

CISPA purports to allow companies and the federal government to “share” threat information for a “cybersecurity” purpose—to protect and defend against attacks against computer systems and networks. But the bill is written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to identify, obtain, and share your emails and text messages with the government. While business leaders have conceded that they do not need to share personally identifying information to combat computer threats, the bill provides an exception to existing law designed to protect your personal information.


The newly granted powers are intended to thwart computer security threats against a company’s rights and property. But the definitions are broad and vague. The terms allow purposes such as guarding against “improper” information modification and ensuring “timely” access to information, functions that are not necessarily tied to attacks.


Once handed over, the government is able to use this information for investigating crimes that are unrelated to the underlying security threat and, more broadly, for “national security” purposes, which is a poorly defined term that includes “threats to the United States, its people, property, or interests” and “any other matter bearing on United States national or homeland security.”


Companies would also be immune from both civil and criminal liability for any action, including but not limited to violating a user’s privacy, as long as the company used the powers granted by CISPA in “good faith.” The immunity even extends to “decisions made based on” any information “directly pertaining” to a security threat. The consequences of such a clause are far-reaching.

Meanwhile, Trevor Timm, executive of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, noted in the Guardian that:

One of the most underrated benefits of Edward Snowden’s leaks was how they forced the US Congress to shelve the dangerous, privacy-destroying legislation– then known as Cispa – that so many politicians had been so eager to pass under the guise of “cybersecurity”. Now a version of the bill is back, and apparently its authors want to keep you in the dark about it for as long as possible.


Now it’s called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (Cisa), and it is a nightmare for civil liberties. Indeed, it’s unclear how this kind of law would even improve cybersecurity. The bill was marked up and modified by the Senate intelligence committee in complete secrecy this week, and only afterward was the public allowed to see many of the provisions passed under its name.


Cisa is what Senator Dianne Feinstein, the bill’s chief backer and the chair of the committee, calls an “information-sharing” law that’s supposed to help the government and tech and telecom companies better hand information back and forth to the government about “cyberthreat” data, such as malware. But in reality, it is written so broadly it would allow companies to hand over huge swaths of your data – including emails and other communications records – to the government with no legal process whatsoever. It would hand intelligence agencies another legal authority to potentially secretly re-interpret and exploit in private to carry out even more surveillance on the American public and citizens around the world.


Under the new provisions, your data can get handed over by the tech companies and others to the Department of Homeland Security (not exactly a civil liberties haven itself), but then it can be passed along to the nation’s intelligence agencies … including the NSA. And even if you find out a company violated your privacy by handing over personal information it shouldn’t have, it would have immunity from lawsuits – as long as it acted in “good faith”. It could amount to what many are calling a “backdoor wiretap”, where your personal information could end up being used for all sorts of purposes that have nothing to do with cybersecurity.But it’s not just privacy advocates who should be worried: transparency also takes a huge hit under this bill. Cisa would create a brand-new exception to the Freedom of Information Act (which is already riddled with holes), all the better to ensure everything in this particular process remains secret.


In typical intel-committee fashion, the Foia amendment wasn’t even made public until after it was passed by committee.


The fact of the matter is the Snowden leaks have done more for cybersecurity than any info-sharing bill ever could. The major tech companies have leapt forward and are now competing on who is more secure because of worries that the NSA, and other intelligence agencies for that matter, are snooping wherever they can. Certainly there is more to do, but eviscerating privacy rights in the process is not the solution.

Unsurprisingly, the financial services industry seems to be particularly excited about this piece of legislation. This shouldn’t come as any surprise in light of my recent post: Wall Street Teams Up with U.S. Intelligence Cronies in Bid to Form Fascist “Cyber War Council.” 

As The Hill points out:

The new Senate bill has won support from financial trade groups, among others, who say the legislation is critical to making sure hackers can’t wreak havoc on bank records.

Kenneth Bentsen, chief executive at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said in a statement that leaders of the Senate Intelligence panel who wrote the bill have “taken a balanced and considered approach which will help the financial services industry to better protect our customers from cyber terrorists and criminals, as well as their privacy.” 

Ah, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). This is the same Wall Street lobby that former NSA chief Keith Alexander recently signed on as a client for $600,000 per month for “cyber-security” advice.

Ah, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). This is the same Wall Street lobby that former NSA chief Keith Alexander recently signed on as a client for $600,000 per month for “cyber-security” advice.

It seems fairly obvious what CISA is intended to do. The NSA and other intelligence agencies are well aware that all Americans essentially sign away their privacy rights to large technology companies via terms of service agreements (a topic I highlighted recently). Now that government access to tech companies’ data has been exposed by Edward Snowden, they are looking for another way to obtain “legal” access. This seems to be what CISA is all about.

If you recall, the most meaningful victory achieved by Aaron Swartz prior to his untimely and tragic death at the hands of a vindictive and hateful U.S. government, was leading the charge to stop Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA. It would be wise for all of us to take heed of his words:

We won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom. They threw themselves into it. They did whatever they could think of to do. They didn’t stop to ask anyone for permission. You remember how Hacker News readers spontaneously organized this boycott of GoDaddy over their support of SOPA? Nobody told them they could do that. A few people even thought it was a bad idea. It didn’t matter. The senators were right: The Internet really is out of control. But if we forget that, if we let Hollywood rewrite the story so it was just big company Google who stopped the bill, if we let them persuade us we didn’t actually make a difference, if we start seeing it as someone else’s responsibility to do this work and it’s our job just to go home and pop some popcorn and curl up on the couch to watch Transformers, well, then next time they might just win. Let’s not let that happen.

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Squid Viscous's picture

how does this evil twat keep getting elected? and Boxer too, she may be even worse if that's possible

TeamDepends's picture

Answer:  California, it's long past time to redeem yourself, so send her, Pelosi and the rest of the libclowns to Mexico FREE OF CHARGE.

New World Chaos's picture

Her seat is so safe that she will get away with voting for a vicious oligarchical police state.  What are the hippies going to do, vote Republican?  Or maybe kick her out via the primary?  But loss of such a long standing, entrenched, high ranking senator would definitely cost them some free shit.  So bring on the Stazi.  

The converse happens in red states.  See Ted Stevens and John McCain, for example.

Seize Mars's picture

Dude, there are no "elections." Wake the fuck up. It happens to serve as nice cover that she is in a very "liberal" place. But it doesn't matter. As long as she can get on the ballot, the fix is in.

Look at Joe Lieberman. He was kicked out in a primary. In theory that means (in Connecticut) if you lose the Democrap primary, you lost the race. Well what did he do? Whoops! He showed up as an, um, "Independent," and lo and behold...he "won."

Wow! It's a miracle.

tvdog's picture

Feinstein's true home is Israel, not the U.S. or Mexico. Send her there.

Harbanger's picture

By lying cheating and stealing like a good Democrat, means she's smart and savvy.  But she's not any more progressive than Obama, Hitlery or Warren.

WeNeedaRealGovt's picture

Last year a similar cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House. Republicans in the House, who don't do anything, passed a bill far more intrusive than CISA.  RonWyden (D-Or.) and Mark Udall (D-Co.) voted against the bill and released a joint statement criticizing the bill’s lack of privacy protections.

I guess the only thing the House GOP and TEA Party can be counted on for is hypocrisy.

Squid Viscous's picture

red team, blue team! they're not your team, wake the fuck up! 

WeNeedaRealGovt's picture

One thing for sure, Red team will sacrifice you and your children for a buck.  Gave the biggest cos massive tax breaks, bankrupted the people.

Blue team will spend too much on the poor and charge the middle class.   Except there is no middle class left.

I say we start a new team, stop buying from China, repatriot the profits from multi-nationals, rebuild mfg and get the fuck out of other peoples business.

nmewn's picture

"Gave the biggest cos massive tax breaks, bankrupted the people."

We talkin ObamaCare or grants & loans to "green energy" cronies?

WeNeedaRealGovt's picture

At least 20 million Americans benefitted on ACA. Did you get a War rebate? Did the CEO of BP call you and say thanks?You're a true GOP TEA Shitter, tow that party line while living on D'Nile. I bet you donate big$$ and really got money worth.
Its those like you who have been brainwashed for so long you believe the shit you see on Fox. Then you come here and think your among friends. ZH is turning out to be another Drudge, Newsmax etc. Just feed the mushrooms more shit and keep 'em in the dark. If GOP ever gets the Whitehouse again, this site will be shuttered. Wake up GOP Sheeples! You're getting fooled again.

nmewn's picture

"At least 20 million Americans benefitted on ACA."

I'm afraid I'm gonna need a source for that wild assertion DiFi, you got a legitimate source? There was also something about costs decreasing "on average" $2,500 a year and being "allowed"...(lol...good grief, ALLOWED) to keep your doctor and what happened to the other 20 million Haaahhhvahd & Kaiser said needed it?

And...most of all...since when does the state come in and say someone must enter into commerce (the market) or face a fine/penalty?

Thats Authoritarianism 101 (Fascism) you fucking twit.

I eagerly await your non-response.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

chris mathews told him. trust me, he's legit....

nmewn's picture

I can see him now, running back & forth between Kos & HuffPo searching for a scrip for a tingling

But I have noticed the "progressives" have dropped the teabagger trope. Apparently something finally overtook the cognitive dissonance of the left in their brain.

Like PC ;-)

TheReplacement's picture

They don't spend that much on the poor.  Most of that money is siphoned up by cronies before it hits the streets.  The truly damaging bit of that action is making so many dependent instead of independent.  That is a huge drag on the economy and the basis of bi-lateral slavery.

TheReplacement's picture

Like the shit dad says, 'You're favorite team doesn't give a fuck about you.'

Urban Redneck's picture

If only Dan White had stuffed his face with moar Twinkies...

TeethVillage88s's picture

S. 2588: Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014

Introduced: Jul 10, 2014, Status: Reported by Committee on Jul 10, 2014, 28% chance of being enacted

Previous Bill: S. 2102 (112th)
Sec. 6. Protection from liability.
Sec. 7. Oversight of Government activities.

Usually the Unspoken thing is most important.

A) 1 Million people have access to Secret data in the USA, no doubt there will be some foreigners included & some hackers.
B) Blackmail is always a risk, just like when we see Supreme Court Justices voting the wrong way.
C) Corporations don't seem to get the same regulation in our Cyber Security, right? Corporations act as Proxies for DOD & CIA & NSA. They have little to zero risk of being called to testify by FBI, IGs, GAO, or Congressional Investigators. They get big contracts to keep their mouths shut and to help agencies skirt the "Law". And often they become the "Law" as in PMCs or as in Private Swat Teams.

PMA or PMC = Private Military Army or Private Military Corporation

HedgeHammer's picture

Am I loosing it or is it not illeagal for the senate to draft any Bill or Law as all Bill's and Law's are to originate in the House of Represenatives or am I mistaken somehow?

Yes I believe I am loosing it with all that is going on today!

Nick Jihad's picture

According to the consitution, spending bills must originate in the House. Of course, taking the ACA as precedent, the House could pass a bill declaring National Churro Day, and the Senate could amend that bill to enact Obamacare.

HedgeHammer's picture

That's right thank you for jogging my memory. I should have refreshed my memory before posting but I am just to GD tired and sick of all the BS on a daily basis. Something has to give way. Sad part is either way guilty and innocent alike will soon pay a hefty price.

Freddie's picture

Looks like Obama's US military is on the move in America against Americans.

WeNeedaRealGovt's picture

Freddie, you don't live near a military base do you?

Monty Burns's picture

Are there no Gentile men in California?  Why do they have to be represented in the Senate by two Jewish women?

seek's picture

You know, I used to think it was the hyper-left leaning folks in CA that kept electing her.

Except I've talked to a few of them, and not a single one supports her. No one. Most think she's as evil as the conservative right thinks she is.

At this point I think she's actually getting close to no votes, and NSA/Diebold fix that for her in exchange for votes. Or they have a file on her so thick she doesn't dare not support them.

waterhorse's picture

Correct.  NO ONE supports this crone Lieberdem named DiFi.  No one likes her husband's looting and pillaging of prime post office properties either; yet the shit goes on.

drendebe10's picture

"There is nothing uglier than an old white woman." Fred Sanford, Sanford & son.

f16hoser's picture

I hope feinstein dies of Radiation poisoning. CMON Fukishima!!!

Squid Viscous's picture

Don't hold your breath, if it gets really bad she will slither down into her bunker stocked with Evian and Gravlax...

waterhorse's picture

Too slow.  Hope she betrays her masters.  Then it will be suicide by nail gun.

pathetic looser's picture

i dont know if its possible but if internet will get resticted/censored/completly controntronlled then there is no hope for peace or wellbeing of human civilisation , just the fast track to distopia

sleigher's picture

Someone posted this yesterday, I hadn't heard about it but it is an awesome idea if they can do it.

Hackerspace global grid.

TheReplacement's picture

OR!!! We could stop using the internet.  You know, like it was for thousands of years before 1995?

pathetic looser's picture

then there would be no way to spread information on a current scale. we wouldnt even be able to have this conversation .

Colonel Klink's picture

Dianne Fiendslime, tribe member, that is all....

john39's picture

what is it with all these Irish people and the fascist NWO conspiracy... 

Squid Viscous's picture

and how come these old lizards never die, Icahn, Greedspan, Schumer, Levin etc.

Colonel Klink's picture

Because they continue to live by taking the lives and souls of others.  Then bathing and drinking babies blood.

Squid Viscous's picture

you know that sounds crazy, but then I saw Shelly Adelson and Sumner Redstone on the tube the other night, and I was like, wtf - this is nuts...even Godzilla died at some point right?

Skip's picture

Sumner Redstone, who was known to his parents as Murray Rothstein.

waterhorse's picture

I thought of a great slogan for Schumer's political opponent:  Time to "Chuck" Schumer or maybe Time to Upchuck Schumer.

Monty Burns's picture

The most evil reptile who ever crawled the earth. Will he ever die and reunite with Lucifer?

Jayda1850's picture

We are past the tipping point now, I believe. The vast majority of Americans see articles like this and their eyes just glaze over as they put out another facebook or twitter post. The American people have been so fattened up and coddled that they will be trotted willingly into poverty and, eventually, death while still wearing a smile on their face. We're like the boiling frog who gluttonously lavishes in the hot water unknowingly quickening our own demise. The time to have put an end to things like this was a long time ago. Hate to be pessimistic, but I think Americans, as a whole, don't have it in them anymore, we've let it get too far. Hope I'm wrong.

Squid Viscous's picture

Huxley nailed it... nobody gives a fuck, and as Orwell predicted even the ones who dare to watch the "news" on teevee or use the interweb for their "news" are spoon-fed a barrage of lies and mis-direction...

Monty Burns's picture

I hope you're wrong too but I think you're right......

potato's picture

Fund viruses that mingle terrist keywrds into all communications. Security through obscurity. Data is noise. No signals = no intelligence.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Yes, what is all this stuff about National Security & Intelligence Legislation?

Treasury Intelligence Agency, on Text of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015 Bill HR5016.

Section 120.

Funds appropriated by this Act, or made available by the transfer of funds in this Act, for the Department of the Treasury's intelligence or intelligence related activities are deemed to be specifically authorized by the Congress for purposes of section 504 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 414) during fiscal year 2015 until the enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

Text of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 Sec. 301. Increase in employee compensation and benefits authorized by law.

S. 1681


To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.

Related Bills

[H.R. 3381: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014]

[H.R. 4681: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015]

[S. 1035: Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013]

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

A turning point for the US will be when Feinstein is frog-walked to a federal detention center for treason. Until then, we are so fucked.