Washington, D.C. – October 28, 2015 — Late yesterday afternoon, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) by a wide margin (74-21). The bill purports to enhance security by providing mechanisms for sharing information between the private sector and government. However, the operational effectiveness, along with privacy and surveillance concerns, prompted the Niskanen Center and its coalition partners to push back against the bill in recent months.

“Yesterday, the Senate essentially punted on effective cybersecurity,” said Ryan Hagemann, the Niskanen Center’s technology and civil liberties policy analyst. “The provisions of CISA, while much improved from earlier versions, still fail to address any of the real underlying concerns associated with the types of data breaches we’ve seen over the past summer. Cybersecurity is a complex issue, one which cannot be effectively addressed merely by sharing information. Encryption, cyber hygiene, and best practices in mitigating risks associated with human error are far more effective ways of dealing with online threats in an age of increasing information flows. CISA fails to address these issues, and therefore fails as a viable remedy for preventing cyber hacks and intrusions.”

The Niskanen Center and its partners have been arguing that CISA’s privacy protections do not adequately safeguard Americans’ personal information. The questionable nature of the bill’s operational efficacy is also concerning–especially given the lack of any private right of action for citizens whose data is misappropriated, mishandled, or misused by government agencies.

“The Senate has not moved forward with a bill that addresses privacy concerns or effective cybersecurity practices,” Hagemann said. “Rather, they have passed a ‘showmanship’ bill that does little, if anything, to address the underlying concerns associated with cybersecurity. The failure of all the various privacy-enhancing amendments to the bill is also disconcerting. Here’s hoping the bill can be improved when it goes to the House.”