Tester fights for privacy rights, opposes information sharing bill

Tester: A government unchecked is a dangerous government

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today fought to protect every American’s right to privacy by opposing legislation that allows for the broad sharing of personal information between corporations and federal government agencies.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) permits companies to voluntarily share the personal information of private citizens with the federal government if there is believed to be a cybersecurity threat. Tester compared CISA to the Patriot Act because it will provide the NSA and other federal agencies overly broad access to personal information without the consent of law abiding Americans.

“We know that a government unchecked is a dangerous government,” Tester said on the Senate floor. “In a world where technology changes faster than our laws, we cannot and must not give corporations and the federal government unbridled authority for generations to come. We already know that several federal agencies have engaged in invasive surveillance of law-abiding Americans. They’ve utilized intrusive monitoring techniques-tracking our phone calls and listening in our conversations, gathering storehouses of personal information. And they’ve done so in the name of the Patriot Act – one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to have come out of this body.”

CISA also provides liability protections for the companies that provide personal information to the federal government, but it fails to provide adequate protections to the customers whose personal data is being shared. Tester supported multiple amendments to the bill that would have strengthened privacy protections and reduced the amount of personal information being shared with the government while identifying and combating cyber threats and potential threats. Unfortunately, these amendments failed.

Tester has been a vocal critic of the NSA’s data collection and fought to end the unlawful spying of law abiding Americans by the federal government.

The Senate passed CISA by a vote of 74-21. There are two related House bills on information sharing and related to cybersecurity: H.R.1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) and H.R.1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA) both of which passed the House in April. CISA will now head to a conference committee where lawmakers will iron out the differences between the bills.