The U.S. Senate just passed the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that the tech industry largely hates, by a vote of 74 to 21.
The bill now must be reconciled with companion measures in the House of Representatives before moving to the White House to be signed into law. The Obama administration has endorsed the bill.
The bill’s stated purpose is “to improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.”
In layman’s terms, the idea is to allow private companies to share information about cybersecurity threats with the federal government without fear of violating privacy laws protecting personal data. Then, in theory, the information could be used by the government to spread warnings of vulnerabilities or even used by law enforcement in “preventing, investigating, or prosecuting” a number of crimes including violent felonies and identity theft.
However, the bill has come under fire, with tech companies and digital rights advocates strongly opposing measures that they claim would increase government spying without meaningfully improving cybersecurity.
Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (Democrat) and Rand Paul (Republican) have both come out against the bill, with Paul’s campaign creating a petition to stop it.
While Sanders voted against the bill, Paul did not vote.
Republican presidential candidates Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio also did not vote on the bill. Ted Cruz is unaligned on the bill while Rubio supports it.
The Senate also rejected 6 amendments to the bill. One amendment, proposed by Tom Cotton (R-AR), would have allowed the transfer of potential threats directly to the FBI and Secret Service, rather than passing through the Department of Homeland Security.
The other five rejected amendments sought greater privacy protections such as the Wyden amendment (voted 41-55) which sought for parties to remove personal information before sharing threat information and the Coons amendment (voted 41-54) which also sought to limit shared information. The rejected Leahy amendment (voted 37-59) sought to kill an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act that would keep received information private from public requests.