Cyber bill could let feds spy on library users, advocate warns

Cyber bill could let feds spy on library users, advocate warns
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Librarians are warning that a cybersecurity bill about to hit the Senate floor could help the government spy on people using library computers. 

On Wednesday, the head of the country’s largest advocate for libraries urged senators to oppose the “privacy-hostile” bill known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

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The measure is meant to boost the exchange of data about hackers between companies and the government.

"When librarians oppose a bill with ‘information sharing’ in its name you can be sure that the bill is decidedly more than advertised,” said Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association (ALA).

CISA-related lobbying has ramped up in recent weeks as the measure inches closer to the Senate floor. It could come up as early as next week.

While most industry groups, a large bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and even the White House support the bill as a way to better understand and thwart hackers, privacy advocates have argued the measure would simply funnel more of people's private data to the government.

Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenThis Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Senate passes college anti-Semitism bill Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape MORE (D-Ore.) has been leading a small but growing group of privacy-minded senators who have spoken out against the bill.

Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWeek ahead: AT&T-Time Warner merger under scrutiny This week: Government funding deadline looms Week ahead: Cures bill nears finish line MORE (I-Vt.), both presidential candidates, have joined Wyden's opposition. They point to what they say are inadequate provisions requiring companies and the government to strip out sensitive data prior to sharing it with intelligence agencies.

“As Sens. Wyden, Paul and Sanders have courageously pointed out in opposition to it, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act would dramatically over-share the personal information of tens of millions of Americans who depend upon library computer networks, and could function, as a practical matter, as a new warrantless surveillance tool,” Feldman said.

The ALA in April joined a large coalition of civil liberties groups, security specialists and academics in a letter to senators expressing similar concerns about CISA.

CISA’s proponents, including co-sponsors Sens. Richard BurrRichard BurrDems pledge to fight Sessions nomination Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates Shakeup on Senate Intel: Warner becomes top Dem MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThis Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Overnight Defense: Armed Services chairman's hopes for Trump | Senators seek to change Saudi 9/11 bill | Palin reportedly considered for VA chief Lawmakers praise defense bill's National Guard bonus fix MORE (D-Calif.), have said these allegations are inaccurate.

The two lawmakers, who head the Senate Intelligence Committee, say they have worked with privacy groups to tighten requirements to remove personal information.

“They’re not for any bill,” Burr said at a recent event, noting that CISA’s language expressly forbids the bill from authorizing any new surveillance authority.

“Some people you just can’t satisfy no matter what you do,” Feinstein added, speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.