Lawmakers 'Fail the Internet,' Sneak Cyber Bill Into Must-Pass Omnibus

A controversial cyber bill is included in the final text of the must-pass “omnibus” spending deal to be voted on in U.S. Congress this week, even as civil liberties advocates warn it is nothing more than an expansion of government surveillance powers in disguise.

This means the bill is likely to pass “without meaningful debate or transparency on the final text,” digital rights group Fight for the Future said Wednesday.

Lawmakers have been pushing for some form of the bill to pass since the Senate passed one version, known as the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA), in October and the House of Representatives approved two similar texts in April—but critics say all previous privacy protections have been stripped away, as the bill’s Republican backers shut out the public and other members of Congress from the negotiation process.

Opponents also criticized GOP leaders’ use of the omnibus to carry the cyber bill into law, as the spending deal is expected to be approved by President Barack Obama when it reaches his desk.

“Congress has failed the Internet once again,” said Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future.

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