Republican Senator John McCain recently introduced a controversial cyber-security bill that has been harshly criticized by civil liberties groups for its Orwellian stipulations.
Indeed, the nascent legislation – if passed – would significantly expand the domestic reach of US intelligence agencies and their online surveillance capabilities.
The McCain bill proposes voluntary information sharing by Internet providers, with data from potentially “malicious” cyber-actors routinely funneled into “cybersecurity centers” run by the National Security Agency’s Threat Operations Center and the US Cyber Command Joint Operations Center.
“This is a privacy nightmare that will eventually result in the military substantially monitoring the domestic, civilian Internet,” Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told Reuters.
“It is absolutely critical that if the government wants to collect information, it go through a civilian agency.”
Richard Clarke, a former top counter-terrorism and cyber-security official in previous administrations, seemed to sympathize with the ACLU’s position.
“[Clearly, the] NSA or Cyber Command can’t be the face of the government effort… Why are we [even] having this controversy?”
Unsurprisingly, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers dismissed concerns over the draft bill, terming them “overblown and premature.”
“Senator McCain’s priority in crafting this bill has been to make sure it strengthens our security while continuing to safeguard the privacy of consumers,” Rogers claimed.
“He remains open to addressing legitimate concerns as this process moves forward.”