Policy Letter

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

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 [email protected].


AccessAmerican Association of Law Libraries
American-­Arab Anti-­‐Discrimination Committee (ADC)American Association of University Professors
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)Liberty Coalition
American Library AssociationMuckRock
Association of Research LibrariesNational Coalition Against Censorship
Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeNational Freedom of Information Coalition
Californians AwareNational Security Counselors
Center for Democracy and Technology - CDTOpenTheGovernment.org
Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch)Peacefire.org
Center for Media and DemocracyProgressive Librarians Guild
Cyber Privacy ProjectProject On Government Oversight - POGO
Daily KosRutherford Institute
Demand ProgressSociety of American Archivists
Essential InformationSpecial Libraries Association
Floor64Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)
Freedom of Information Center at the Missouri School of JournalismUS PIRG
Government Accountability Project - GAPWashington Coalition for Open Government
Human Rights Defense Center

Individual signatories (additional information only for identification purposes)

Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor, The Washington Examiner