THE US SENATE has passed the controversial Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing Act (CISA), despite widespread opposition to the bill given its shady privacy implications.
The Senate passed the bill, which encourages companies to share "cyber threat" data with the federal government in real time, by 74 votes to 21 on Tuesday, and it will now progress to the House of Representatives.
Several amendments to the bill that would have required companies to implement strong consumer privacy protections were narrowly voted down.
This means that the bill is the same one that has faced strong opposition from big-name technology firms, including Apple and Twitter, which have argued that it will give the government invasive spying powers.
Pro-privacy campaigners have been quick to speak out about the vote, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who slammed CISA earlier this week as a "surveillance bill".
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has also spoken up, saying that CISA will do nothing to prevent future security breaches like the recent high-profile attacks on OPM and Ashley Madison, and has said that it will continue to fight it.
"The passage of CISA reflects the misunderstanding many lawmakers have about technology and security, " the EFF said.
"Computer security engineers were against it. Academics were against it. Technology companies, including some of Silicon Valley’s biggest like Twitter and Salesforce, were against it. Civil society organisations were against it. And constituents sent over one million faxes opposing CISA to senators.
"With security breaches like T-Mobile, Target and OPM becoming the norm, Congress knows it needs to do something about cyber security. It chose to do the wrong thing. The EFF will continue to fight against the bill by urging the conference committee to incorporate pro-privacy language."
Long-time CISA opponent Fight for the Future has also been quick to criticise the decision, saying: "This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of internet our children and our children's children will have, but what sort of world they will live in."
An Apple spokesperson said: "We don't support the current CISA proposal. The trust of our customers means everything to us and we don't believe security should come at the expense of their privacy."
Despite this mass opposition, the Obama administration has indicated strongly that it is in support of CISA and will back the bill should it reach the president's desk. µ
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