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Senate Votes Down Improved Cybersecurity Bill

Michelle Richardson,
Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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August 2, 2012

This morning, the Senate voted against moving forward on cybersecurity legislation, ending the bill’s chances at final passage.

As we told you earlier this week, the Senate version of the cybersecurity bill (S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act), was recently significantly improved with several new privacy- oriented changes, including a mandate that information shared with the government under the program go to civilian agencies and not the National Security Agency or other military components.

The bill would have required annual reports from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense as well as the Intelligence Community Inspectors General, which would have described what information is received, who gets it, and what is done with it. It also would have given Americans the right to sue the government if it intentionally or willfully violates the law.

A statement we issued after the vote included a quote from me: “Regardless of today’s vote, the issue of cybersecurity is far from dead. When Congress inevitably picks up this issue again, the privacy amendments in this bill should remain the vanguard for any future bills. We’ll continue to work with Congress to make sure that the government’s cybersecurity efforts include privacy protections. Cybersecurity and our online privacy should not be a zero sum game.”

Thanks to all of you who made phone calls and sent emails to your senators this week. You can be sure that the ACLU will continue to fight for adequate privacy measure the next time Congress considers cybersecurity, and the senate debate around this particular piece of legislation has helped to set a new standard for any new legislative proposals.

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