Group builds Twitter path to senators in Cybersecurity Act fight

Group builds Twitter path to senators in Cybersecurity Act fight

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is using an interactive Twitter tool that has opponents to the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 flooding the Twitter accounts of U.S. senators.

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TOPICS: Privacy, Security
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Powered by an interactive tool deployed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, opponents of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 are filling the Twitter streams of U.S senators in a crowd-sourcing move reminiscent of the outcry against anti-piracy legislation earlier this year.

The tool, available on a site called Stop Cyber Spying, has users enter their zip code and click a button that says “Find my Reps.” Users are presented with a field to enter a Tweet or use pre-crafted Tweets addressed to their senator’s Twitter handle.

“We are hearing from contacts in DC that they are getting Tweets much faster than phone calls,” said Rainey Reitman, activism director at the EFF. "They are saying we are having an impact." Reitman did not have numbers on how many Tweets have been sent since the tool went live over the weekend.

After Tweeting, the EFF tool directs users to a website run by the American Library Association that provides a tool to place phone calls to senators.

“Tonight we are planning to put up another tool that will help people find senators on Facebook,” Reitman said.

The goal of the effort is not only to voice opposition against the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA), but to support pro-privacy amendments to CSA such as the Franken-Paul Amendment, which calls for tougher privacy rules, and oppose anti-privacy amendments such as McCain and Hutchison.

The EFF says CSA “would let companies like Facebook and Google monitor our online communications and then pass that data to the government without a warrant.”

Backers of the bill say it will help protect industries from cyber attacks.

CSA could come up for vote as early as tomorrow evening. The site Lawfareblog.com reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is angling for a procedural vote, a move that may signal Reid thinks the bill can't be saved.  Nearly 70 amendments to the proposed legislation have been offered, some that have nothing to do with cybersecurity, which has confused the CSA effort.

“We hope we can defeat this tomorrow,” said Reitman. “But we know a victory will be temporary. We are going to have to keep fighting these privacy legislation issues for a long time.” To wit, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House in April.

Reitman says EFF is fighting on two fronts; one to defeat CSA and another to add amendments such as Franken-Paul in order to lessen the impact if CSA is ultimately approved.

The EFF is not the only group rallying opposition. Fight for the Future has set up a website to support a campaign called “Do you have a Secret?”

It focuses on the CSA amendments and warns users the National Security Agency could be empowered to spy on the online activity of private citizens. The group is collecting signatures on a petition and encouraging people to call their senators.

This type of crowd-sourced opposition by advocacy groups or interested parties is becoming an effective tool to voice support or opposition to legislation. Google and Wikipedia rallied nearly 15 million people in separate campaigns to defeat the Stop Online Privacy Act earlier this year.

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Topics: Privacy, Security

About

John Fontana is a journalist focusing in identity, privacy and security issues. Currently, he is the Identity Evangelist for cloud identity security vendor Ping Identity, where he blogs about relevant issues related to digital identity.

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  • The key word in that sentence

    "could" be empowered to spy on the online activity of private citizens. It did not say that they "will" spy on the online activity of private citizens.

    Unfortunately for you humans, terrorist "will" use your internet to quietly, and effectively, plan attacks that will kill many people, including those that are against the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

    I wonder who they will blame for not doing "all they could have" to stop those attacks?
    Tim Cook
    • Just say "terrorist" and take away our freedoms.

      "Terrorists" and "child pornography" and "save the children" are the terms used to take away all of our freedoms. This bill is just a cover for the fascists to take away our freedoms. They keep trying with different names for the same bill that is intended to control the internet, knowing that we will finally get warn down.

      Mr. Spock, shame on you.
      gertruded