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In Advance of CISPA Vote, Congress Needs to Hear From You

Michelle Richardson,
Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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April 25, 2012

Congress is poised to vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill that would allow companies to monitor our online communications and share private information about users with the government, including the National Security Agency, a division of the Defense Department, and the largest and most powerful spy agency in the world. If you’ve been reading our blog, you know that CISPA lets companies bypass all existing privacy law as long as they have a “good faith” belief it is for cybersecurity purposes.

Despite last minute amendments from the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the fundamental problems with CISPA remain. Companies still aren’t required to even make an effort to take out sensitive and personal information before sharing cybersecurity data with the government. The amendments still allow this information to be sent directly to the NSA and other military offices instead of keeping civilians in control of Americans’ internet info (click here to read our extended analysis about keeping domestic cybersecurity efforts in civilian hands). And, the bill’s use limitations, while amended, still allow the government to use what it collects for undefined “national security” purposes.

The House of Representatives is set to begin debating CISPA tomorrow, and is pushing for a vote by the end of the week. Congress needs to hear from you now! Please call your representatives today and urge them not to sacrifice the civil liberties of Internet users in any cybersecurity legislation.

You can look up your representative’s phone number here and follow this short script of suggested talking points when you’re on the phone:

Hi my name is [insert your name] and I’m a constituent. I’m calling about the CISPA cybersecurity bill (H.R. 3523). CISPA would trample on decades of privacy law, allowing companies to spy on our online communications and pass all kinds of sensitive data to the government. That information could end up in the hands of the NSA, an agency notorious for its lack of public accountability. And that data could also be used for purposes completely unrelated to cybersecurity.

Please tell [insert your representative’s name here] to stand up for civil liberties and oppose CISPA.

Thank you for your time.

Once you’ve made the call, please share this call-to-action on your social networking sites and ask your friends to join you. We need to get as many calls as possible today, before the legislation can be rushed through. The ACLU is joining forces with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press and other civil liberties organizations to get the word out, but we need your help to generate as many calls as possible!

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