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Too much Ominibus

This week Congress will be voting on the $1.140 trillion Ominibus spending bill. As is the case with all these big spending bills that are rushed to the floor before most members have a chance to read them, this year's Ominbus is chocked full of hidden provision expanding government power.

As Campaign for Liberty warned its members last week, the appropriations bill contains a version of CISA that is actually worse than the versions that passed the House and Senate earlier this year.

As you can see from this chart prepared by the  Open Technology Institute, almost every aspect of the new version of CISA is worse than the alternatives. Perhaps the worst aspect of this bill is that the changes make it clear that this bill has nothing to do with cyber security and everything to do with spying on us. As Techdrist reports:

The latest version of CISA that they're looking to put into the omnibus:

  1. Removes the prohibition on information being shared with the NSA, allowing it to be shared directly with NSA (and DOD), rather than first having to go through DHS. While DHS isn't necessarily wonderful, it's a lot better than NSA. And, of course, if this were truly about cybersecurity, not surveillance, DHS makes a lot more sense than NSA.

  2. Directly removes the restrictions on using this information for "surveillance" activities. You can't get much more direct than that, right?

  3. Removes limitations that government can only use this information for cybersecurity purposes and allows it to be used to go after any other criminal activity as well. Obviously, this then creates tremendous incentives to push for greater and greater information collection, which clearly will be abused. We've just seen how the DEA has regularly abusedits powers to collect info. You think agencies like the DEA and others won't make use of CISA too?

  4. Removes the requirement to "scrub" personal information unrelated to a cybersecurity threat before sharing that information. This was the key point that everyone kept making about why the information should go to DHS first -- where DHS would be in charge of this "scrub". The "scrub" process was a bit exaggerated in the first place, but it was at leastsomething of a privacy protection. However, it appears that the final version being pushed removes the scrub requirement (along with the requirement to go to DHS) and instead leaves the question of scrubbing to the "discretion" of whichever agency gets the information. Guess how that's going to go?

In short: while before Congress could at least pretend that CISA was about cybersecurity, rather than surveillance, in this mad dash to get it shoved through, they've dropped all pretense and have stripped every last privacy protection, expanded the scope of the bill, and made it quite clear that it's a very broad surveillance bill that can be widely used and abused by all parts of the government.

Campaign for Liberty members who oppose big-spending budget deals that contain covert assaults on our liberties should call their Representatives and Senators and tell them to just say NO to the Omnibus.


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