These companies sold us out.
What does it take for some of the biggest competitors in the tech industry to put their differences aside and sign a letter endorsing hugely unpopular surveillance legislation that's been lambasted by privacy groups and security experts? Sweeping legal immunity. Worse, these companies know that their customers hate CISA, and so they’re jumping into the water together, hoping there’s safety in numbers. After all, you can’t blame Microsoft if Apple is doing the same thing, right?
In the letter, these companies didn't come right out and say they were endorsing CISA. Instead, they asked Congress to "act promptly" to pass "Cyber Threat Information Sharing Legislation." But these companies aren't stupid. They know that the Senate will vote on CISA soon, and will use this letter as cover to say the tech industry supports it.
What's wrong with CISA?
If you’re not up to speed, CISA is a mass surveillance bill posing as a “cybersecurity” bill. Congress has been blindly scrambling to react to the OPM hacks, and their solution is a giveaway to the NSA and giant corporations:
- All privacy policies effectively null and void. Companies can share any private user data with the government, without a warrant, as long as the government says it is being used for a “cybersecurity” purpose.
- In exchange, companies are given blanket immunity from civil and criminal laws, like fraud, money laundering, or illegal wiretapping (if a violation was committed or exposed in the process of sharing data).
- Data is shared with a wide array of government agencies, from the FBI and NSA, to the IRS and local law enforcement. Many of these agencies have been breached within the last year and have outdated security systems, opening up the doors to even more cyber attacks.
- Companies that play along can get otherwise classified intelligence data from the government, including private information about their competitors.