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In wake of hack, anti-CISA group targets Experian

In wake of hack, anti-CISA group targets Experian

Following a massive breach of data held by Experian, a group of web activists is trying to oust the company’s chief executive, Brian Cassin over his support for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

A website created by the anti-CISA group, Fight for the Future, now mentions lobbying dollars and campaign contributions spent by Experian in support of the bill.

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“Brian Cassin has put the profits of his company above the well-being of his customers,” the website says. “His strategy is simple—by giving enough money to politicians, those politicians will hopefully pass legislation allowing him to duck responsibility for keeping his customers' data secure.” 

The attack on Experian and Cassin is the newest addition to the “YouBetrayedUs.org” website launched to target tech companies that support CISA.

CISA is intended to boost the flow of information between the federal government and private industry, but it has faced fierce opposition from privacy groups and the technology industry. 

The critics say CISA will funnel personal data to government agencies that can’t be trusted to protect sensitive information. Advocates counter that the legislation will help repel cyberattacks.

The site features a petition urging Cassin to step down and includes a phone number people can dial to push members of Congress to oppose the legislation. The proposed measure could see action on the Senate floor in the coming weeks.

An estimated 15 million T-Mobile customers may have become victims of a data breach of encrypted data housed by Experian, a credit agency that processes the telecom carrier’s credit applications, T-Mobile said on Thursday.

Experian did not immediately return a request for comment about the website.

Since CISA was introduced in July 2014, Experian has spent $1.04 million in lobbying fees, including payments to high-powered firms including Venable, DLA Piper and Lincoln Policy Group, the latter run by former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). 

Not all of the lobbying disclosure forms list CISA as an issue, and the question of how much was spent to lobby specifically on data-sharing bills cannot be easily answered.

In the first six months of 2015, the company’s political action committee donated $163,000 to federal lawmakers. During the two-year 2014 election cycle, Experian PAC gave $650,100 to candidates – reaching an all-time high for its federal giving.

“Experian supports legislation that would facilitate greater sharing of cyber threat information among appropriate private and government entities,” an Experian spokeswoman told The Guardian about CISA in August. “Such sharing arrangements, under parameters set by law, could improve our mutual efforts to better detect and respond to emerging cyber threats.”

Fight for the Future has previously waged successful campaigns on cybersecurity policy and net neutrality.

The group scored its most recent victory on its opposition to CISA after BSA | The Software Alliance, a tech industry group, wrote a letter that seemed to express support for the proposed legislation.

In retaliation, Fight for the Future threatened a boycott of Salesforce, a member of the industry group and a signatory on the letter. 

BSA backed off and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff also tweeted his disapproval of the legislation.

 “The letter clearly was a mistake and doesn't imply CISA support,” he wrote on the social media platform. “We need to clarify. I'm against it.”