Post praises Senate cyber bill

The Washington Post is calling on Congress to move forward with legislation to better protect the country’s cyber networks.

In an editorial published Sunday, the newspaper’s editorial board praised legislation approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee that has privacy advocates up in arms.  

“A torrent of cyberattacks — disruption, espionage, theft — is costing U.S. business and government billions of dollars. This is reality, not science fiction,” the board wrote.

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“Thus it was encouraging to see the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence vote 12 to 3 last week to approve a cybersecurity bill that would begin to bridge the gap.

That bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), would allow private companies and government agencies to share information about possible threats and weaknesses online, with the goal of making sure network across the Internet are better defended.

Advocates have said the measure is a critical first step to keeping foreign spies and hackers out of U.S. computers, but civil liberties advocates have feared that too much personal information would be shared with agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

“There are legitimate fears that the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command will, in pursuit of cybersecurity, scoop up too much information about Americans,” the Post acknowledged. “But this supercharged privacy debate should not stand in the way of a good cybersecurity bill. Rather, it is a reason for Congress to build in workable and sufficient privacy protections and get on with passing legislation that is long overdue.”

CISA comes on the heels of a similar bill approved by the House last year, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which raised alarms among privacy advocates months before NSA leaker Edward Snowden became a household name.

More than a year after his first leaks, they say, the public should be more wary than ever about giving new powers to the NSA.