The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has joined the fray in publicly opposing a bill that will sweep away privacy in America’s online communities. But why would an agency widely considered to be leading the pack in the breach of America’s privacy rights oppose a bill that actually fosters federal agency intrusion? The devil is in the details.
In a seven page letter to the Senate through outspoken privacy Senator Al Franken, Homeland Security expressed its utter condemnation of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) for its privacy violations. DHS said the bill would “sweep away important privacy protections."
The stand by DHS has led to widespread surprise among many people who are questioning the agency’s legitimacy in questioning a bill that offers immunity to private companies sharing Americans’ data with federal agencies. According to analysts, DHS is not at all concerned with Americans’ privacy rights but rather bureaucratic turf.
Initially, the DHS had sole authorization to access Americans’ online data for cyber security reasons. This included the right to hoard access to this information against other federal agencies and also the right to call dibs on the budgetary cyber security allocations.
With CISA, these rights have been taken away from the agency and handed over, on a silver platter, to other federal agencies including the NSA, an agency that has been clamoring for the devolvement of online information access rights to other security agencies.
CISA’s provisions will severely weaken DHS in addition to giving away a critical blank check on budgetary cyber security allocations.
In their seven page letter to the Senate, Homeland Security said, “The Administration has consistently maintained that a civilian entity, rather than a military or intelligence agency, should lead the sharing of cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with the private sector.”
The letter went on to conveniently state, “DHS recommends limiting the provision in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act regarding authorization to share information, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to sharing through the DHS.”
Though DHS consistently states their opposition of the bill is all because of its privacy violations potential, they have failed to distance themselves from accusations that they are only interested in calling the shots when it comes to America’s online information.