Congress just concealed an entire surveillance law within tomorrow's must-pass budget. https://t.co/goEZ6hJ416 #CISA pic.twitter.com/TQuQocg2kK— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 17, 2015
In a late-night session of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a new version of the “omnibus” bill, a massive piece of legislation that deals with much of the federal government’s funding. It now includes a version of CISA as well. Lumping CISA in with the omnibus bill further reduces any chance for debate over its surveillance-friendly provisions, or a White House veto. And the latest version actually chips away even further at the remaining personal information protections that privacy advocates had fought for in the version of the bill that passed the Senate.
“They took a bad bill, and they made it worse,” says Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute.
CISA had alarmed the privacy community by giving companies the ability to share cybersecurity information with federal agencies, including the NSA, “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” That means CISA’s information-sharing channel, ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, could also provide a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant...
Even in its earlier version, CISA had drawn the opposition of tech firms including Apple, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. In April, a coalition of 55 civil liberties groups and security experts signed onto an open letter opposing it. In July, the Department of Homeland Security itself warned that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value” at the same time as it “sweep[s] away privacy protections.”
That Senate CISA bill was already likely on its way to become law. The White House expressed its support for the bill in August, despite its threat to veto similar legislation in the past. But the inclusion of CISA in the omnibus package may make it even more likely to be signed into law in its current form. Any “nay” vote in the house—or President Obama’s veto—would also threaten the entire budget of the federal government.
“They’re kind of pulling a Patriot Act,” says OTI’s Greene. “They’ve got this bill that’s kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they’ve seen an opportunity to push it through without debate. And they’re taking that opportunity.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan is quickly becoming much worse than the crony John Boehner, See Rush Limbaugh on the ugly budget parts of the current bill: Rush Limbaugh Lets It Rip Over Republican House Approval of Budget.
Ryan is coming off as a total insider, establishment, big government, operative. At least, Boehner had, ahem, distractions.