Push for CISA repeal in Senate appears unlikely

Cybersecurity Requirements Proposed for New York Financial Companies
Cybersecurity Requirements Proposed for New York Financial Companies

While privacy advocates in the House are planning a long-shot campaign to repeal the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, there appears to be no complementary push in the Senate.

CISA was included in the omnibus appropriations bill passed late last year. But the measure, which provides a statutory framework for cyberthreat information sharing between government and the private sector, has been criticized as a surveillance bill. A group in the House, led by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), has introduced legislation to repeal the act.

However, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told FCW, “It’s not going to be repealed, not in the Senate.” Leahy was among the 21 lawmakers who voted against CISA when it was presented as a stand-alone bill in the chamber.

Other key lawmakers — including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who led the Senate’s efforts on the bill — told FCW it would take entirely new legislation to repeal CISA, which seems unlikely.

“No, it’s law,” Burr said Jan. 27 on his way to weekly Senate lunch meetings.

“It’s locked in,” Feinstein said. “It’s signed by the president.”

Craig Frucht, press secretary for CISA opponent Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), told FCW in a statement that Polis not does not agree with the assessment that CISA is “locked in.”

“Technology companies and civil liberties advocates are strongly opposed to the bill, and if its implementation leads to the kinds of privacy abuses that many believe it will, then there will be substantial pressure on Congress to act,” Frucht said.

Foes of the measure complained not just about the content of the law but about the way bills passed by the House and Senate were combined for inclusion in the omnibus.

“The cybersecurity act was negotiated in secret by just a few members of Congress and added quietly to the 2,009-page omnibus to avoid scrutiny,” Amash said in a statement introducing the repeal legislation. “Most representatives are probably unaware they even voted on this legislation. It’s the worst anti-privacy law since the USA PATRIOT Act, and we should repeal it as soon as possible.”

Amash introduced the repeal bill with Polis and Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).

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