We are writing you today as professionals, academics, and policy experts who have researched, analyzed, and defended against security threats to the Internet and its infrastructure. We have devoted our careers to building security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes.
We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong computer and network security does not require Internet users to sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties.
The bills currently under consideration, including Rep. Rogers’ Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 3523) and Sen. McCain’s SECURE IT Act (S. 2151), are drafted to allow entities who participate in relaying or receiving Internet traffic to freely monitor and redistribute those network communications. The bills nullify current legal protections against wiretapping and similar civil liberties violations for that kind of broad data sharing. By encouraging the transfer of users’ private communications to US Federal agencies, and lacking good public accountability or transparency, these “cybersecurity” bills unnecessarily trade our civil liberties for the promise of improved network security. As experts in the field, we reject this false trade-off and urge you to oppose any cybersecurity initiative that does not explicitly include appropriate methods to ensure the protection of users’ civil liberties.
In summary, we urge you to reject legislation that:
Uses vague language to describe network security attacks, threat indicators, and countermeasures, allowing for the possibility that innocuous online activities could be construed as “cybersecurity” threats.
Exempts “cybersecurity” activities from existing laws that protect individuals’ privacy and devices, such as the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Gives sweeping immunity from liability to companies even if they violate individuals’ privacy, and without evidence of wrongdoing.
Allows data originally collected through “cybersecurity” programs to be used to prosecute unrelated crimes.
We appreciate your interest in making our networks more secure, but passing legislation that suffers from the problems above would be a grave mistake for privacy and civil liberties, and will not be a step forward in making us safer.