CISPA Bill To Obliterate Privacy Laws Under Guise of Cybersecurity, A Blank Check of Privacy Invasion

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News Posted: Thu, Apr 26 2012 1:33 PM
There's a bill currently up for debate in the US House of Representatives that would give companies and government agencies the right to share information when issues of cybersecurity were at stake. If the first thing you thought after reading that was "Wait, don't we already do this," the answer is "Yes, we do." The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is drawing fire for certain provisions that drastically expand the definition of what data can be shared and for the way they handle existing data protections.

At present, the government's ability to share data on its citizens is fairly restricted, insomuch as the various agencies must demonstrate cause and need. This has created a somewhat byzantine network of guidelines and laws that must be followed -- a morass of red tape that CISPA is intended to cut through. One of the bill's key passages is a provision that gives private companies the right to share cybersecurity data with each other and with the government "notwithstanding any other provision of law."

It's that last bit that's understandably drawn fire, despite the bill's sponsor (Mike Rogers, R-MI) insisting that the government and various private entities wouldn't abuse the privilege. Rogers is, at least, more open to revising the bill than were the backers of SOPA/PIPA earlier this year, but groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation remain unsatisfied with the bill in its current form. The ACLU has also weighed in on the proposed changes. ""A lot of them aren't substantive," Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU, told CNET. "They just put the veneer of privacy protections on the bill, and will garner more support for the bill even without making substantial changes."

The core problem with most of the proposed amendments isn't that they don't provide necessary protections, it's that they seek to bind the length of time the government can keep the data it gathers, or the sorts of people it can't collect data on rather than protecting citizens as a whole. One proposed amendment, for example, would make it illegal to monitor protestors -- but not other groups. It's not hard to see how those seeking to abuse the law could find a workaround -- a "protestor" is just a quick arrest away from being considered a "possible criminal risk."


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One of the other major issues raised by the groups against CISPA is that none of the proposed amendments restrict how agencies like the CIA or NSA could use the information they gather. In the eyes of many, the push to secure the United States' digital borders is little more than a power grab based on spooky cyberboogymen. The idea that we suddenly need a new law that would carry a built-in override to the privacy protections already in place seems out of proportion to the dubious reality of current "cyber threats."

The problem with this sort of blank check "notwithstanding" clause is that even if the people who write the law have only good intentions, it provides substantial legal cover to others who might not. Given the amount of sharing that already takes place between corporations and government institutions, there's simply no need to give investigators the right to invade the privacy of any citizen at will--not when such a privilege could so obviously be abused.
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The biggest problem with these bills is how vague they are. The bills can be interpreted any way that fits the current need.

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Obama said that he would VETO this bill if it passes.

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AKnudson replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 4:31 PM

Lawyers, and women are the only people on earth who use 100000 words to say absolutley nothing and then hold it against you. This bill was written in the language of lawyers. It says trust us but give us power to abuse you.

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ZTimpson replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 5:57 PM

rofl at the pic! @AKnudosn you stated it perfectly!

COPA and CISPA are a violation of the american constitution!

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 9:45 PM

I totally agree with the 10000 words statement on that one AKnudson lol!

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 9:46 PM

To tell you the truth it is rather sad where our political system is going with all the shady BS!

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:21 PM

Wow, Aknudson, lawyers maybe but women? That's a pretty wide net your casting there. I wouldn't even come close to going that far, though a do know a few women that like to hear themselves talk. Know a few men for that matter too, with the same issue. :)

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:21 PM

He better, if he wants to get re-elected.

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Inspector replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:57 PM

Dave_HH:

He better, if he wants to get re-elected.

HAHA so true :P

 

"insisting that the government and various private entities wouldn't abuse the privilege." How can anyone "insist" companies won't abuse it??? that's just nonsense and im sure any reasonable person won't say that is ever going to be true. Just look at the world we're in!

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 27 2012 7:09 PM

Thanks for writing about this, Joel. This is definitely a subject I've wanted to get more attention.

I'd write a note to my representatives here in Texas, but I was so dismayed by their form-letter responses to my technical point-by-point technical arguments against the CISPA predecessors that I'm sure I will again be infuriated by their returns.

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AKnudson replied on Sat, Apr 28 2012 1:32 AM

Haha yeah your right Dave, Not all women are like that just the ones in my family. ;) I think this bill is ridiculous, to give a little insight on the law process, for the Obama healthcare bill that was such a huge deal, it was a 1300 page bill. Congress debated for 3 days on whether or not they should be required to read the whole thing to vote for or against. They decided NOT to read the bill before voting on it.

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Yes these are a big insane especially considering that most of these bills could be written in 1000 words or less. Obama better VETO this because I have a feeling it is going to end up on his desk. Everyone is concerned about their privacy especially on the internet and the government is the only one who can get away with violating it. WTF.

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It's sad that they need to protect us by taking our rights, but the government can do thing in secret under the guise of national security.

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