What is the answer when many of the people representing Americans are technically illiterate and continue to think poor legislation like CISA is the answer to cyber woes? According to tech savvy groups, the answer is to bury those Senators under a mountain of faxes as part of Operation FaxBigBrother and a “week of action” to help stop cyber spying and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).
“Cybersecurity experts agree that CISA won’t stop cyberattacks like the OPM hacks, but Congress is stuck in 1984 and clearly doesn’t understand modern technology,” said Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer. “They’ve received millions of emails and phone calls from concerned citizens opposing bills like CISA that grant companies sweeping legal immunity to share our private data with the government; maybe using technology as outdated as their thinking will help them finally get the message.”
Eight different phone lines convert emails and hashtagged tweets to faxes; each fax is sent to all 100 members of the Senate. Within a day of launching Operation FaxBigBrother “more than 310,000 faxes” were “queued up to flood fax machines on Capitol Hill.”
Fight for the Future claims that CISA will not only “massively violate privacy,” but also give the NSA “the information they need to finally crank up their cybersecurity surveillance system.” The EFF explained, “Not only does CISA grant companies more power to obtain ‘cyber threat indicators’ and to disclose that data to the government without a warrant—it requires real time sharing of that information to military and intelligence agencies, including the NSA. In other words, cyber threat indicators shared with any agency would be automatically shared with the NSA—all without requiring companies to strip out personally identifying information.”
Although the OPM hack and almost every attack that happens it due to incompetence—such as using "password" as a password or other PEBKAC and ID10T errors—it will give companies immunity and the thumbs up to share your information with the government. FaxBigBrother added logos so you can visualize who will get your information.
“CISA is a mass surveillance bill dressed up as a cybersecurity bill,” added Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon, “It’s a blatant end-run around the Constitution and essentially legalizes all forms of government and corporate spying, putting giant companies like Facebook and Google above the law and allowing them to do almost anything they want with our personal information.”
CISA would give companies “new and invasive tools” for monitoring “broadly-defined threats” and allow those companies “to recklessly deploy countermeasures that damage networks belonging to innocent bystanders.” The EFF said “cybersecurity purposes” and “cybersecurity threat” have “overbroad definitions” in CISA yet “would create incredibly broad immunity for companies that engage in any of the activities authorized by the bill.” It will be too bad, so sad if you want to know what data is collected about you or about everyone as CISA is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.
CISA is “fundamentally flawed” and may end up making things “worse for Internet users.” A coalition of 68 experts asked President Obama to “pledge to veto CISA” as it “threatens privacy and civil liberties and may even undermine Internet security.” The letter was signed by 39 civil society organizations and companies, including the EFF, CDT, ACLU, Access, Free Press, The Constitution Project, The Sunlight Foundation, Fight for the Future and more, as well as by 29 security experts like car hacker Charlie Miller, crypto guru Bruce Schneier, Tor Project researcher Jacob Appelbaum, and Joe Grand who was formerly known as Kingpin in the L0pht hacker group and who also later co-hosted Discovery Channel’s Prototype This!
“CISA fails to protect users’ personal information,” the group wrote. “It allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat.”
The letter concluded that CISA “threatens to undermine privacy and civil liberties, and increase cybersurveillance,” and then urged President Obama to oppose CISA and “defend privacy and civil liberties by voicing your opposition and your intention to veto it.”
The EFF believes that just like the original version of CISA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), “grassroots activism can stop this legislation in its tracks.” Suggested ways you can help during this week of action include visiting Stop Cyber Spying where you can email and fax your Senators to tell them to vote no on CISA and faxing your lawmakers and then tweeting about “why CISA must be stopped with the hashtag #StopCISA. Use the hashtag #FaxBigBrother if you want to automatically send a fax to your Senator opposing CISA.”
Senator Ron Wyden, who has been opposing CISA, was happy to hear that the vote on the “badly flawed” bill may be delayed until after the Senate break in September. “I really want to commend the advocates for the tremendous grassroots effort to highlight the fact that this bill was badly flawed from a privacy standpoint,” Wyden told The Hill. “Our side has picked up an enormous amount of support.” But don’t stop as “finding 40 votes to block the bill completely will be a difficult task.”