Securing Members of Congress from Transparency
I commented in this article on the repeal of the transparency provisions of the STOCK Act:
Passed in 2012 after a 60 Minutes report on insider trading practices in Congress, the STOCK Act banned members of Congress and senior executive and legislative branch officials from trading based on government knowledge. To give the ban teeth, the law directed that many of these officials’ financial disclosure forms be posted online and their contents placed into public databases. However, in March, a report ordered by Congress found that airing this information on the Internet could put public servants and national security at risk. The report urged that the database, and the public disclosure for everyone but members of Congress and the highest-ranking executive branch officials—measures that had never been implemented—be thrown out.
The government sprang into action: last week, both chambers of Congress unanimously agreed to adopt the report’s recommendations. Days later, Obama signed the changes into law.
The article went on to talk to four cybersecurity experts, all of whom basically said the same thing:
Bluntest of all was Bruce Schneier, a leading security technologist and cryptographer. “They put them personally at risk by holding them accountable,” Schneier said of the impact of disclosure rules on Congress members and DC staffers. “That’s why they repealed it. The national security bit is bullshit you’re supposed to repeat.” (Three of the four experts we consulted opted for the same term of choice.)
There was a security risk, but it was not a national security risk. It was a personal Congressperson risk.
EDITED TO ADD (4/25): Jon Stewart quoted my “the national security bit is bullshit” line.
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