The month of July featured the introduction of two bills that continue efforts to reform government intelligence gathering and national security.
On July 10, 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Committee) approved a bill entitled the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (S.2588 or CISA), co-authored by Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The bill’s authors stated that the purpose of the legislation is to encourage private and public sector entities to share information about cybersecurity and incidents with each other in order to identify and prevent cyber-attacks.
A critical feature of the legislation is language that provides liability protection to entities that share information in accordance with the processes and procedures set forth in the Act, and protects information shared with the government from disclosure. Critics have raised concerns that the bill encourages the private sector to share more information with the government. The introduction of CISA comes after the release of a discussion draft to federal agencies, private industry, and the public seeking comment. The bill has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar for further consideration by the full chamber.
On July 29, 2014, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and fourteen bipartisan cosponsors introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, (Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act, or S. 2685). Like a previous version introduced in the Senate and a companion bill introduced in the House last October, the new Senate bill is intended to reform the National Security Agency’s collection and storage of Americans’ telephone records and Internet metadata under the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. 107-56).
The new version of the USA FREEDOM Act was introduced in the Senate in response to concerns expressed by some legislators and stakeholders about changes made to the House bill prior to that bill’s passage on May 22, 2014. The new version has been described by its authors as a compromise measure that has the support of the White House, the technology industry, and civil liberties groups, although the leadership of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence noted that the committee—which shares jurisdiction over the government’s data collection program at issue—was not consulted in drafting the new language. The author of the House bill, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), publicly expressed support for the Senate’s new compromise language. It remains to be seen how, or if, the Senate will consider the USA FREEDOM Act in the brief period that remains for the 2014 legislative session.