18 April 2013

Fight CISPA

Today the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA), by a vote of 288-127. Yet many people don't know what that bill would do.  For what it is worth, this is the second go by the bill's sponsors to get it passed; the previous bill in the last Congress was stalled in the Senate via filibuster.

What does this bill do, and why is it so bad? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent primer on the legislation -- CLICK HERE to view.

In a nutshell, that means that companies not only will be allowed, but likely encouraged to give out dirt on you and I to the government. And when they do, they would be immune to any sort of liability for doing so. When people say this will enable "cyberspying" on American citizens, they really do mean it.  The ACLU has stated: "“The core problem is that CISPA allows too much sensitive information to be shared with too many people in the first place, including the National Security Agency."

What does this mean? CISPA overrides existing privacy protections and undercuts it. And this concept alone should terrify every single American. This concept alone is odious to the concept of a free people and repugnant to the spirit of liberty that our Founding Fathers intended. I daresay that this is an attempt to re-establish the 21st Century equivalent of the "general warrant" that was abused by the British authorities just prior to the American Revolution.

Fortunately, President Barack Obama has again threatened to veto the bill on grounds of civil liberties and failing to provide privacy safeguards for Americans online. Let's hope it doesn't come to that and the bill will die in the Senate.

Recently, one of the bill's co-sponsors, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-08) has gone on record as condemning CISPA opponents as basement-dwelling 14 year olds.  This statement in and of itself positively reeks of arrogance and ignorance. Yes, this member of Congress apparently thinks that if you're concerned about your privacy and would rather not risk having your personal information end up in the wrong hands, then you're obviously an immature and spoiled brat living in your mother's basement.

Needless to say, this is "Not Even Wrong" and quite insulting to boot. Not to mention that according to Techdirt, Rep. Rogers has an obvious vested interest and would personally benefit greatly from CISPA's passage. Suffice it to say, this is all too common these days in Washington.

Chewie and I both urge you to oppose CISPA. If you live in the United States, we further urge you to contact your senators. The stakes are high and the government should not be able to abuse our privacy rights in such an atrocious manner.

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