Tomorrow is a very important day in American politics. A landmark amendment to the National Security Act of 1947 has been pushed through the House of Representatives and is set for a rushed vote in the Senate. CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, H.R. 3523) is an amendment that would update the law to include the ability to govern the sharing of specific information between private companies and the government that is deemed a “cyber threat.”
If SOPA/PIPA was about censorship, CISPA is about privacy.
I’m curious though, what does the amendment define as a “cyber threat?”
“Information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from either ‘efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network’; or ‘theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property or personally identifiable information.”
So really anything could be a “cyber threat” right? Just wonderful.
Well, why should you care? Because it’s legislation that can, and will have implications on our society, government, future laws, and most importantly you. This little provision would pretty much nullify existing privacy laws and give corporations legal immunity for sharing your information and communication with the government. In its current form, CISPA affects our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and in the name of “national security,” our government has proven time and time again that it will continue to cater to corporate manipulation and special interest groups at the cost of the average American.
What CISPA effectively says is that the 4th Amendment does’t apply online. Also the government structured the bill which exempts CISPA from the Freedom of Information Act. The legislation is now currently tucked inside of Senate bill S.2105, which has bipartisan congressional support, and will likely pass without a majority of the public even knowing it exists.
But it gets better. The meetings were all held in secret too…
Oh, and did I mention that the amendment is terribly vague when it comes to the limits on how and when the government may (will) monitor a private individual’s personal information? Text messages? Check. Emails? Check? All shared freely between corporations and the government.
Here’s a good one: What company just went public in the stock market and has almost a billion subscribed users? If you said Facebook, well you were right, or you looked ahead and saw what I wrote (smarty pants).
Facebook will spy on you and your friends. It will gather all your “private” information, allow the government to use it anytime against you, and for whatever reason it sees fit. Does the government need to know what you did this morning when you woke up? Not really. What about the conversation in messenger you had about the new Game of Thrones episode? Doubt it. So why does the government need to be constantly checking what websites you go to, what you say, and when you do it? Good question.
Yes, we apparently need to protect ourselves from… the terrorists. Again.
* “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.“
- George Washington
So, are you starting to get a little pissed off yet? Unfortunately there isn’t really anything you can do now but sit and wait. It looks like it’s going to pass in the Senate, and President Obama will sign it, so welcome to your future prison cell.
For future reference, here’s a list of companies that supported CISPA and their “letters of support.” ∞
CTIA – The Wireless Association
Cyber, Space and Intelligence Association
The Financial Services Roundtable
Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance
Information Technology Industry Council
Internet Security Alliance
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
US Chamber of Commerce
US Telecom – The Broadband Association