Privacy groups are sounding the alarm that a new Senate cybersecurity bill could give the National Security Agency access to even more personal information of Americans.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act would create a "gaping loophole in existing privacy law," the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and dozens of other privacy groups wrote in a letter to senators late Thursday.
"Instead of reining in NSA surveillance, the bill would facilitate a vast flow of private communications data to the NSA," many of the same privacy groups warned in a second letter to lawmakers.
The goal of the bill, authored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and ranking member Saxby Chambliss, is to allow the government and private sector to share more information about attacks on computer networks.
Business groups have been complaining for several years that they could better protect their systems from hackers if Congress removed legal barriers to information-sharing. The companies want to make it easier to share information about attacks with each other and the government.
The Senate bill includes provisions aimed at protecting privacy, such as requiring that companies that share information first strip out personally identifiable data (such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers) of known Americans.