Bad Watchdog Season 2 launches June 20.

Policy Letter

POGO and Partners Oppose the House Cybersecurity Bill

Dear Representative:

The undersigned organizations dedicated to government openness and accountability are writing to urge you to oppose HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, because it 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.

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. That Committee has the expertise needed to ensure that FOIA-related provisions promote transparency and public accountability while allowing the government to withhold only that information which truly requires protection.

We urge you to oppose HR 3523, and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure any cybersecurity legislation passed into law both protects our nation’s 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 [email protected].

Sincerely,

American Association of Law Libraries

American Association of University Professors

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Library Association

American Society of News Editors

Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Center for Media and Democracy

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington - CREW

Community Research

Cyber Privacy Project

Electronic Frontier Foundation – EFF

Entertainment Consumers Association

Essential Information

Feminists for Free Expression

Fight for the Future, Center for Rights

Freedom of Information Center at the Missouri School of Journalism

Government Accountability Project - GAP

iSolon.org

James Madison Project

Liberty Coalition

MuckRock

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Freedom of Information Coalition

OMB Watch

OpenTheGovernment.org

Project On Government Oversight - POGO

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – PEER

The Pullins Report

Reporters Without Borders

Republican Liberty Caucus

Rutherford Institute

Society of American Archivists

Society of Professional Journalists

Special Libraries Association

Sunlight Foundation

Understanding Government

US Bill of Rights Foundation

Utah Foundation for Open Government

Washington Coalition for Open Government

Individuals (additional information for identification purposes only)

Brian R. Hook

Editor, B.R. Hook and Missouri Journal