Washington – Senate leaders have removed a controversial reporting requirement from the Intelligence Authorization Act. The measure would have turned online communications companies into Internet police, making it mandatory for them to report evidence of any potential terrorist activity, which could have subjected many innocent people to government investigation. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had placed a hold on the bill due to concerns about it.
Civil rights and industry groups including the Computer & Communication Industry Association sent a letter to Senate leaders in August voicing their concerns that making this reporting requirement mandatory. The measure would have led Internet companies to overreport, pursuant to a vague definition of “terrorist activity” and would have brought innocent people under the scrutiny of the U.S. government. In addition, the process had few limitations on the use of shared information or other safeguards.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“Placing the burden of searching customers’ communications for signs of terrorism on online companies would have a chilling effect on the Internet while encouraging well-intentioned companies to over-report data on law-abiding citizens. However it would have done little to achieve the results those proposing it were seeking. We once again thank Senator Wyden for his leadership and for championing the Internet as a communications tool. He successfully blocked the bill until his colleagues could gather more information on the limited likelihood of success versus the significant consequences of this approach.”