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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Joins Over Thirty-Five Groups that Voice Concerns Over Openness in New Cyber Bill

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March 8, 2013

March  11,  2013    

The Honorable Mike Rogers Chair, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United  States  House  of  Representatives
Capitol  Visitor  Center  HVC-304  
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on  Intelligence
United  States  House of Representatives
Capitol Visitor Center HVC - 304  
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger,

The  undersigned organizations dedicated to government openness and accountability are writing to let  you know about our grave concerns with HR 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).  As drafted, HR 624 constitutes a wholesale attack on public access to information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

In the interest of encouraging private companies to share cybersecurity threat information, the bill unwisely and unnecessarily cuts off all public access to cyber threat information before the public and Congress have the chance to understand the types of information that are withheld under the bill.  Much of the sensitive information private companies are likely to share with the government is already protected from disclosure under the FOIA. Other information that may be shared could be critical for the public to ensure its safety.  The public needs access to some information to be able to assess whether the government is adequately combating cybersecurity threats and, when necessary, hold officials accountable.

We hope we can work with you to address these issues. Many of us expressed similar concerns about provisions included in the version of the bill brought to the House floor during the 112th Congress. Those concerns led many of us to oppose the bill and encourage Members to vote against final passage.

We also encourage you to work with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ensure that the FOIA-­‐related provisions in CISPA promote transparency and public accountability while allowing the government to withhold only that information which truly requires protection. Any effort to expand of the authority of the federal government to withhold information from the public should begin with careful consideration, including public hearings, by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over FOIA.

We urge you to ensure any cybersecurity legislation passed into law both protects computer networks and promotes transparency and accountability to the public. If you would like to discuss these issues further, please contact Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of  OpenTheGovernment.org, at 202-­332-­6736 or pmcdermott@openthegovernment.org.

Sincerely,  

Access American Association of Law Libraries
American-­Arab Anti-­‐Discrimination Committee (ADC) American Association of University Professors
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Liberty Coalition
American Library Association MuckRock
Association of Research Libraries National Coalition Against Censorship
Bill of Rights Defense  Committee National Freedom of Information Coalition
Californians Aware National Security Counselors
Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology - CDT OpenTheGovernment.org
Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) Peacefire.org
Center for Media and Democracy Progressive Librarians Guild
Cyber Privacy Project Project On Government Oversight - POGO
Daily Kos Rutherford Institute
Demand Progress Society of American Archivists
Essential Information Special Libraries Association
Floor64 Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)
Freedom of Information Center at the Missouri School of Journalism US PIRG
Government  Accountability Project - GAP Washington Coalition for Open Government
Human Rights Defense Center  

                 
 
Individual signatories (additional information only for identification purposes)

Mark Tapscott
Executive Editor,  The Washington Examiner

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