Attempts to gain control of the Internet, or to implement government censorship of the Internet, continue at an amazing frequency and intensity. An example of this is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 3523, with 106 cosponsors, which has been moved out of committee and is ready to be taken up on the floor of the House later this week.
CISPA is being framed as essential to national security. Tech giants like Facebook, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft, and Verizon favor the bill, unlike SOPA and PIPA which they opoosed
and which had tech companies enforcing government policy. This measure
includes an exemption of liability for those companies who take part in
CISPA’s government information exchange; tech companies would be
protected from any responsibility associated with regulating users.
The nuts and bolts of CISPA would have the Director of National
Intelligence appoint members of the “intelligence community” as monitors
of communications. First, government security clearances for employees
of private firms would be granted. Then exchanges of information between
government and private companies would be considered “proprietary
information” as the search for “cyber threat intelligence” would be on.
Cyber threat intelligence is defined as “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: (1) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such
system or network; or (2) theft or misappropriation of private or
government information, intellectual property, or personally
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), dedicated to defending constitutional rights in the digital world has analyzed CISPA’s vague terms:
“An ISP could use it to monitor communications of subscribers for
potential infringement of intellectual property. An ISP could even
interpret this bill as allowing them to block accounts believed to be
infringing, block access to websites like The Pirate Bay believed to
carry infringing content, or take other measures provided they claimed
it was motivated by cybersecurity concerns.
"The language of ‘theft or misappropriation of private or government
information’ is equally concerning. Regardless of the intent of this
language, the end result is that the government and Internet companies
could use this language to block sites like WikiLeaks and
NewYorkTimes.com, both of which have published classified information.”
Your ISP could intercept every email or text message you send and notify
the government of the content of your personal communications under the
umbrella of “cybersecurity” concerns. Also, under CISPA, a warrantless
cyber wiretapping program totally disregarding the Fourth Amendment
protections could become routine.
Another troubling provision in the bill is the one that “supersedes any
statute of a State or political subdivision of a State that restricts or
otherwise expressly regulates” the new government/private sector
information exchange spy program. No state nullification for government
cyber spying would be allowed!
Ex-White House "Cyber Czar" Richard Clarke
has even recommended that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) be
empowered to monitor everything that goes in and out of America’s online
infrastructure. But even worse, Clarke says if Congress won’t acquiesce
in the matter, this all-encompassing monitoring authority for the DHS
could be established by circumvention: “If Congress will not act to
protect America’s companies from Chinese cyberthreats, President Obama
Internet freedom lovers and civil rights patriots need to unite to
educate others and especially Congressmen on the censorship and privacy
rights dangers of CISPA immediately. Many supposed “conservatives” in
Congress are in favor of this bill, such as Michelle Bachmann (Minn.),
Darrell Issa (Calif.), Dave Camp (Mich.), Patrick Henry (N.C.), Mike
Rogers (Mich.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Joe Pitts
Your Friends at The John Birch Society
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