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[liberationtech] letter opposing cybersecurity legislation: looking for signers

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Tue Apr 17 23:36:35 PDT 2012

----- Forwarded message from Dan Auerbach <dan at> -----

From: Dan Auerbach <dan at>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 18:02:00 -0700
To: nanog at
Subject: letter opposing cybersecurity legislation: looking for signers
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64;
	rv:11.0) Gecko/20120329 Thunderbird/11.0.1

Dear NANOGers,

EFF is looking for sign-ons to a letter expressing concern about some of the proposed "cybersecurity" legislation currently being debated in the US Congress. This legislation has a number of alarming provisions, including incentives for recording massive amounts of network traffic and sharing it with federal agencies; nullification of existing wiretapping and privacy laws; in some cases, new kinds of bureaucracy for backbone and other ISPs who are designated as "critical infrastructure", and provisions that establish intellectual property enforcement as a "cybersecurity" objective.

We realize this is potentially a complicated topic in the NANOG community, and we'd prefer not to start a giant OT flamewar, so: if you agree with our concerns and would like to sign on to our letter, let us know by private email by Thursday morning 9am Pacific US time. If you think we have the wrong perspective, you can let us know off-list, or write your own letters, or work with your various policy departments on this.

Because there are many "cybersecurity" bills currently being debated in the US House and Senate, the letter is generally framed in opposition to bad aspects of the bills, though it calls out two current proposals that are particularly bad and close to passing: CISPA (H.R. 3523) in the House, and "Secure IT Act" (S. 2151) in the Senate. The letter also is intended to be simple and focused on the civil liberties issues that stem from the broadness of the bills. It does not talk about technical problems with deploying IDS/IPS in the private sector (for a discussion of this, see, e.g. or other legitimate technical concerns about effectiveness. We certainly encourage people to raise these concerns separately. The text of the letter is below in triple quotes:


Dear Lawmakers,

We are writing you today as professionals, academics, and experts who
have researched, analyzed, and defended against security threats to the
Internet and its infrastructure. We have devoted our careers to building
security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and
critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes.

We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong
computer and network security does not require Internet users to
sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties. The opposite, in fact, is true.

The bills currently under consideration, including Rep. Rogers' /Cyber
Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 /(H.R. 3523) and Sen.
McCain's/SECURE IT Act /(S. 2151)/, /are drafted to allow entities who
participate in relaying or receiving Internet traffic to freely monitor
and redistribute those network communications. The bills nullify current
legal protections against wiretapping and similar civil liberties
violations for that kind of broad data sharing. By encouraging the
transfer of users' private communications to US Federal agencies, and
lacking any form of public accountability or transparency, these
"cybersecurity" bills falsely trade our civil liberties for the promise
of improved network security. As experts in the field, we reject this
false trade-off and urge you to oppose any cybersecurity initiative that
does not explicitly include appropriate methods to ensure the protection
of users' civil liberties.

In summary, we urge you to reject legislation that:


    Uses vague language to describe network security attacks, threat
    indicators, and countermeasures, allowing for the possibility that
    innocuous online activities could be construed as "cybersecurity"


    Exempts "cybersecurity" activities from existing laws that protect
    individuals' privacy and devices, such as the Wiretap Act, the
    Stored Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.


    Gives sweeping immunity from liability to companies even if they
    violate individuals' privacy without good reason.


    Allows data originally collected through "cybersecurity" programs to
    be used to prosecute unrelated crimes.


    Includes provisions suggesting a back door for intellectual property
    enforcement. Computer security is too important an issue to let it
    be hijacked for the sectional interests of unrelated industries.

We appreciate your interest in making our networks more secure, but
passing legislation that suffers from the problems above would be a
grave mistake for privacy and civil liberties, and will not be a step
forward in making us safer.



For a more detailed discussion of some of the civil liberties implications and other analyses, please see the following articles:

For discussions of CISPA in particular, see:

Dan Auerbach
dan at 
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Peter Eckersley
pde at
Technology Projects Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820
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