Tomorrow the House of Representatives will open a debate on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
A note from The Tireless Agorist: If you haven’t been keeping up with CISPA, here are two earlier Tireless Agorist posts about CISPA: CISPA Keynotes Cybersecurity Week and Who’s Buying CISPA and Selling Us Out?
The ACLU is asking that you to contact your representative because the House of Representatives will open a debate on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, including more than 40 potential amendments. The first link above includes a lookup for your representative’s phone number and even a sample script for the phone call.
Have you made that phone call yet? Don’t disappoint the ACLU, Tim Berners-Lee, Ron Paul, this Tireless Aorist, and a large group of other people. Go make your call, then come back and read what those people, and others, have to say about CISPA.
Here’s the latest analysis of CISPA from Zachary Katznelson at the ACLU.
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is scheduled to being debating the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, authored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). In the name of cybersecurity, the legislation threatens to blow a hole through every privacy law on the books and allow companies to share customers’ private information with the US military. It’s not pretty.
Think for a minute about all the things in your life that are kept on computers, but you would like to keep private. How about your medical records? Your banking and financial records? What about your education or library records? How about the things you bought on Amazon last year? Or those love letters you emailed? Or the political opinions you share with close friends? Do you think the bureaucrats and spies at the National Security Agency have any right to gather that information on you, when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong?
What if we tell you that once the NSA has the information, it can keep it forever, share it with whomever it deems necessary, and that no court will be able to look over the NSA’s shoulder and keep it in check? Yet that is exactly the scheme envisioned by the champions of CISPA. Does Congress really think our Founding Fathers would support this?
Reason Magazine has made note of the fact that industry protests concerning CISPA are almost non-existant, as I pointed out in Who’s Buying CISPA and Selling Us Out?
The companies that’d be sending the information to the government, predictably, aren’t opposing CISPA with the same vigor as they did SOPA. Nevertheless, the ACLU and others hope to be able to replicate the online activism that led to SOPA’s demise.
Unfortunately, their hopes don’t seem to be panning out. The outcry against CISPA is a fraction of that heard against SOPA and PIPA. Have you made your phonecall yet?
Fortunately, at least some people and organizations such as the ACLU are speaking out. OpenSecrets.Org offers a brief summary as well as a list of companies that lobbied on the bill and contributed to the Mike Rogers, the author of the act, or his PAC. Notable contributors include SAIC, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Time Warner Cable, US Telecom Association, and Exxon Mobil, among others.
Truth-Out.org points out that CISPA is being billed as an expansion of the Defense Industrial Base Pilot program.
The legislation is being billed as an expansion of a collaboration between the National Security Agency (NSA) and major ISPs dubbed the Defense Industrial Base Pilot. Under the DIB Pilot, the NSA shares classified cyberattack signatures and information about cybersecurity threats with large ISPs that provide Internet service to major defense contractors.
Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul is one of the few Congress people who have spoken out strongly against the legislation. He draws strong parallels between CISPA and the earlier SOPA/PIPA controversy.
Earlier this year, strong public opposition led by several prominent websites forced Congressional leaders to cancel votes on two bills known in Washington as “SOPA” and “PIPA.” Both of these bills threatened search engines and websites with possible shutdowns if the Justice Department deemed them insufficiently cooperative with our phony “war on terror,” or if they were merely accused of copyright infringement. Fortunately the American public flooded Capitol Hill with phone calls and Congressional leaders dropped both bills.
But we should never underestimate the federal government’s insatiable desire to control the internet. Statists of all parties, persuasions, and nationalities hate the free, unbridled flow of information, ideas, and goods via the internet. They resent the notion that ordinary people can communicate and trade across the world without government filters or approvals. So they continually seek to impose controls, always under the guise of fighting terrorism or protecting “intellectual property” rights.
The latest assault on internet freedom is called the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act,” or “CISPA,” which may be considered by Congress this week. CISPA is essentially an internet monitoring bill that permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight–provided, of course, that they do so in the name of “cybersecurity.” The bill is very broadly written, and allows the Department of Homeland Security to obtain large swaths of personal information contained in your emails or other online communication. It also allows emails and private information found online to be used for purposes far beyond any reasonable definition of fighting cyberterrorism.
…Simply put, CISPA encourages some of our most successful internet companies to act as government spies, sowing distrust of social media and chilling communication in one segment of the world economy where America still leads.
…CISPA is Big Brother writ large, putting the resources of private industry to work for the nefarious purpose of spying on the American people. We can only hope the public responds to CISPA as it did to SOPA back in January.
Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer engineer who devised the system that allows the creation of websites and links, said that of all the recent developments on the internet, it was moves by governments to control or spy on the internet that “keep me up most at night”. He says the extension of the state’s surveillance powers would be a “destruction of human rights” and would make a huge amount of highly intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. Although he was speaking of similar legislation being considered in the UK, his warnings are equally valid when it comes to CISPA. Russia Today has additional coverage of Tim Berners-Lee’s remarks.
Others voicing major concerns with CISPA include Kevin Gosztola of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, C/Net, and Demand Progress (including a simple letter/petition form). Additional coverage is also available from The Raw Story, CISPA Primer and David Seaman of Business Insider, who calls it The Worst and a Major Threat, Period.
Have you made that phone call yet?
…and that’s all I have to say about that.