Yesterday, I was shopping in a store when a young woman stopped me and asked if she could take my photo and I could answer a few questions for a writing assignment in her English class in the vein of “Humans of New York”. I paused and thought for a moment before I politely declined. I declined because I did not know how and where my information would spread.
Today, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), and as it had less chance of passing there than the House, CISA is on its way to being law. The Act gives legal immunity to entities that do not adequately protect our information and have it stolen by hackers and spies if they share that information, including medical and financial data, with the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is obligated to give that information to federal agencies that ask for it, such as the NSA and FBI (and knowing the modus operandi of the NSA, they will collect and warehouse all data that they can). So that customers do not know if the entities they shop with and get services from are giving their personal information to the NSA, CISA gives legal immunity from Freedom of Information Act requests to these entities, so we will only know if the companies we transact with give all of our private information to the government if those companies want us to know. In effect, we will not know how and where our information will spread.
At a time when the personal-data collection industry is rapidly evolving, when previously untapped sorts of information are being honed for commercial gain, I submit that it is prudent to not freely give personal information away when it is not known what use, financial or not, that information may be put to in the future. This reasoning led me to decline sharing my information and likeness with a stranger, a woman I did not know personally, because I could not know where that information could end up. CISA forces us to not know where and by whom our personal information is stored. As it forces us to make a choice that we would not rationally make, I implore you to contact your representative and tell them to vote against CISA.