The hacktivist collective Anonymous has gone from bold theatrics to physical threats, telling supporters of the latest incarnation of CISA that they should drop the cybersecurity bill if they value the “sanctity of their loved ones” and themselves.
“We would like to inform you that despite our direct and crippling attacks on former cybersecurity bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA, there is yet a new threat: The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2014,” the groups says in a video recently posted on YouTube.
Anonymous warns that the bill is a direct attack on the Fourth Amendment as well as the collective, making those who drafted and supported the legislation “sworn enemies.”
“Every action you perform, every word you say, we will know. If you value the sanctity of your loved ones as well as your own [sic], it will be best for you to back down and drop this bill where it belongs – out of our Congress."
The US Capitol Police tasked with protecting members of Congress and investigating threats against them initially seemed unaware of the threat when it emerged Monday. Later, Capitol Police spokesman, Officer Shennell Antrobus, said they generally do not share information relating to their “security posture.”
Publicly threatening to assault a US public official is punishable by a prison sentence of up to six years.
On June 17, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) introduced a draft version of CISA.
According to the senators, the bill “incentivizes the sharing of cybersecurity threat information between the private sector and the government and among private sector entities… responds to the massive and growing threat to national and economic security from cyber intrusion and attack, and seeks to improve the security of public and private computer networks by increasing awareness of threats and defenses.”
It is the fourth such attempt in just as many years that the Senate Intelligence Committee has attempted to pass cybersecurity legislation. In a separate video posted on YouTube, Anonymous warned the bill would give the government “extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers and activists that confront the powers that be.”
Opposition to the bill is widespread among a wide range of privacy advocates.
Writing for the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), Mark Jaycox called CISA “one of the worst yet” pieces of legislation of its kind.
“Cybersecurity bills aim to facilitate information sharing between companies and the government, but they always seem to come with broad immunity clauses for companies, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers. Given such calculated violence to users' privacy rights, it’s no surprise that these bills fail every year.”
Sandra Fulton, legislative assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union, criticized the law as a backdoor attempt "to crack down on whistleblowers" and spy on Americans.
In a letter sent by the coalition of technology, privacy and civil liberties advocates to the senators, the authors contend CISA ignores all of the concerns raised by the NSA spying scandal.
“Instead of reining in NSA surveillance, the bill would facilitate a vast flow of private communications data to the NSA. CISA omits many of the civil liberties protections that were incorporated, after thorough consideration, into the cybersecurity legislation the Senate last considered,” the letter warns.
They further warn the bill will militarize the Civilian Cybersecurity Program, arbitrarily harm average internet users, infringe on net neutrality, fail to protect personally identifiable information, invite companies to behave recklessly and carelessly by providing over the top liability protection in launching cybersecurity “countermeasures,” and circumvent legal protections by providing for warrantless use of information the government culls for investigations not related to cybersecurity.
Feinstein later issued a statement saying that the committee had met with and heard from privacy advocates and made changes where appropriate to address their concerns.
"I believe the bill strikes a balance between the need to share information to improve cybersecurity and the need to safeguard the information being shared," she said.
Read more about cybersecurity legislation: Even worse than SOPA: New CISPA cybersecurity bill will censor the Web