Senate Packages Surveillance Powers Into New Cybersecurity Bill

Officials Cite OPM Hack as Justifying Broad New Powers

Citing pressure to get a deal done faster in the wake of the hack of the Office of Personnel Management, the Senate has announced that it is combining the language of its new cybersecurity bill with a repackaged version of an Internet surveillance bill being touted as cybersecurity-related.

The primary angle of the first half of the bill is to dramatically empower the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the imposition of security measures on the networks of other federal agencies without those agencies haven’t to approve or even be asked.

The second half, most recently dubbed CISA, allows private companies to violate their own privacy rules with impunity to share consumer data with government agencies, and will see to it that the data is automatically forwarded around various US spy agencies.

CISA was/is a nearly word-for-word copy of the already failed CISPA bill, which likewise attempted to broadly increase government data collection under the guise of cybersecurity. The initial version of the bill collapsed in the face of soaring opposition to government surveillance after the Snowden leaks, but officials seem to be betting that has subsided enough to get the deal through.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.