The biggest thing to come out of Texas may turn out to be a blow to Internet freedoms: legislators there are considering a bill that would compromise privacy on the Web for all residents of the Lone Star State.
It would appear that Rep. Mike Rogers, the main person in Congress pushing for CISPA, has kept rather quiet about a very direct conflict of interest that calls into serious question the entire bill. It would appear that Rogers’ wife stands to benefit quite a lot from the passage of CISPA, and has helped in the push to get the bill passed. It’s somewhat amazing that no one has really covered this part of the story, but it highlights, yet again, the kind of activities by folks in Congress that make the public trust Congress less and less.
It has seemed quite strange to see how strongly Rogers has been fighting for CISPA, refusing to even acknowledge the seriousness of the privacy concerns. At other times, he can’t even keep his own story straight about whether or not CISPA is about giving information to the NSA (hint: it is). And then there was the recent ridiculousness with him insisting that the only opposition to CISPA came from 14-year-old kids in their basement. Wrong and insulting.
It’s time to get pissed. The U.S. law that would turn Google, Facebook, and Twitter into legally immune government spies just passed the House.
We expected CISPA to pass; that’s why this spring, we’re going to organize the largest online privacy protest in history to make sure CISPA is gone for good.
And, in response to (Republican) Rep. Mike Rogers’ accusation that CISPA opponents are just “14 year-old tweeter[s] in the basement”, we thought we’d also challenge Rep. Rogers to get on live national television and debate a 14 year-old in a basement on CISPA. The search for the 14 year-old begins. Are you or do you know a 14 year-old who could totally school a congressman on this issue?
This bill affects everyone — not just U.S. citizens. Anyone with a Facebook account could now have their data shipped directly to the U.S. government. That’s why Internet users overwhelmingly oppose this bill. Over 1.5 million people signed petitions against it. But Congress didn’t listen.
Does this remind you of something? Yep, this is the exact position we were in with SOPA last year. Then the Internet rose up and we made history with the SOPA strike.
Join the largest online privacy protest in history to make sure CISPA goes the same route as SOPA and doesn’t become the law that breaks the 4th Amendment. Are you in?
CISPA threatens our most basic rights. Privacy is important not just for our security but for our rights to freedom of expression. The giant tech companies that stood with Internet users against SOPA are not going to help us this time (but some of the large sites like Mozilla, Imgur, and Reddit are all against CISPA and we love them).
Only a massive grassroots outcry will stop this bill. We’re starting to build the tools. But we need your help.
Can you share the flyer below on social media? And tell everyone you know to sign up to join the protest?
BREAKING: CISPA passes US House 288-127. Hope it is stopped in the Senate.
CISPA passed. CISPA passed. CISPA passed.
Remember back in 2011, when Congress angered privacy advocates and Internet users by introducing legislation like SOPA and ACTA? When more concerns were raised as tech giants like Google fought back against federal law enforcement requests for emails? When, in 2012, Congress introduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, which passed the House despite a veto threat from the White House, drawing criticism from privacy advocates?
Well, CISPA is back and completely unchanged from the original draft. And it’s this week’s topic for Underreported Story.
In conversation with The Hill, Representative Charles “Dutch” Ruppersberger stated that he intends to re-introduce the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act in 2013.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known to most as simply ‘CISPA,’ was a lighting rod bill in the House last year, leading to a contentious vote in the lower chamber, and a veto threat the President over privacy concerns. The final vote for the bill was rammed through so quickly that a half dozen of its co-sponsors did not vote for the law in the end.
CISPA passed the House 248 to 168. However, its lack of mandatory standards for critical infrastructure put it into a difficult spot, as the Senate majority was in favor of such standards. In the House they were, and likely remain, anathema. The political climate has shifted some since the last age of CISPA, but probably not enough to convince the House majority to vote in favor of increased regulation.
Naturally, the updated version of CISPA will attract heavy scrutiny when it is announced. That said, I’m not optimistic that it will have been reformed sufficiently to ensure proper privacy for the average United States citizen.
Clearly, there is a firm need for clear, strong cybersecurity legislation in the United States. This is universally agreed upon. However, after the Senate’sfailure on the larger issue, and the President’s apparent declination of issuing an executive order, to see the next round of legislative work originate in the House isn’t surprising But, as with the first version of CISPA before it, the House could trip out of the gate, and gum the wheels of progress.
During a press conference at the capitol on Tuesday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CN) urged fellow lawmakers to pass his Internet spying bill in order to prevent what he dubbed “a cyber 9/11 or a 9/11 Pearl Harbor.”
“The danger of cyber attacks against the United States is clear, present and growing, with enemies ranging from rival nations to cyber terrorists to organized criminal organizations to rogue hackers,” he said.
The Cyberecurity Act of 2012 represents a compromise version of legislation the former Democrat has been pushing since 2010, which flips his originally proposed mandates and replaces them with a voluntary incentive plan — a move key to securing support from Republicans. It would also open up channels for information sharing between corporations and government agencies, which has many civil liberties advocates very worried about how the nation’s law enforcement and spy agencies will use that private data.
Lieberman’s bill also has the support of President Barack Obama and, according to co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), enough Senate Republicans are on board that it actually has a shot at passing. And though bears some important distinctions between the House’s cybersecurity bill,the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), civil liberties groups still say that Lieberman’s bill would, at best, make the government work to support corporate cybersecurity while also granting those same corporations immunity for helping the government spy on private citizens.
It also affords some protections to civil liberties by mandating that any information gleamed from corporate information sharing only be used to prosecute criminals — the definition of which specifically excludes copyright and drug offenders — save people’s lives or intercept an ongoing cyber attack. The most important difference between Lieberman’s bill and CISPA is that the Senate compromise would not place the National Security Agency in charge of the nation’s cyber defense, instead handing that responsibility over to civilian agencies
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said he plans to take up the cybersecurity bill after the Senate finishes debating which expiring tax cuts to extend into the next year — a move that’s riled some Republicans, who claim that it places money over America’s national defense. Lieberman’s bill, however, is still vastly different from the House’s cybersecurity bill, and it’s not clear whether the two can be reconciled before the congressional recess in August.
H/T: The Raw Story
The may be the Super Friends of the Internet: A group of prominent web companies including Mozilla, maker of the Firefox Web browser, the social news website Reddit and the blogging service WordPress have teamed up with advocacy groups and lawmakers to form the Internet Defense League (IDL), a coalition dedicated to rallying Web users against government attempts to take over or destroy the world — the world wide web, that is. And they want your help, too.
“The League is about its members fighting for the interests of the Internet,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, a co-founder of nonprofit Web freedom advocacy group Fight For the Future, which is coordinating the formation of the Internet Defense League, in a phone interview with TPM.
“This is a new 21st century battle for some of the same old basic rights like free speech, freedom to assemble, and the League is here to fight and to win and to help Web users stay engaged,” Cheng added.
To those ends, the IDL is first setting up a new Web-based alert system to allow members to warn of new legislation that they think will harm the Internet’s functioning, and is hosting launch parties Thursday night in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, London and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
There’s a certain irony, perhaps deliberate, to the IDL’s prominent reliance on a major Hollywood tentpole film to bolster its message, as its many of its members — including Fight for the Future and Reddit — are vocally opposed to the attempts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to get legislation passed to crack down on online piracy of movies like “The Dark Knight Rises.”
But Fight for the Future and the IDL may no longer be as opposed to each other’s advocacy work as they once were.
Asked if the MPAA or major Hollywood studios were invited to join the IDL, Cheng told TPM: “If they’re willing to play fair, then sure.”
At the same time, as the Internet has grown, it has seen more attempts by government officials, agencies and policymakers to regulate it and clamp down on its more freewheeling practices, such as file-sharing, which facilitate illegal activity. It’s these attempts that the IDL opposes.
Two such recent such instances of U.S. laws designed to crack down on online piracy specifically include the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), two bills that Congress was considering in late 2011 and early 2012. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America supported both bills.
Wyden, Issa and Polis were all among a small group of lawmakers that opposed the bills from their onset, but they were bitterly outnumbered for a while and the bills looked poised to pass.
SOPA and PIPA abruptly lost support in Congress and were scrapped after a massive online protest by Web users and websites on January 18, in which many sites voluntarily blacked- their homepages to show the censoring effect they argued the bills could have. That protest, known as “Blackout Day,” was spearheaded by Fight For the Future and its allies.
Now those groups have formed the IDL in an effort to create a more permanent, and slightly more organized, campaign in the advent that future bills pop-up.
Part of that effort includes a new alert system: An embed code, which is a few lines of HTML text that website owners can simply copy and paste onto their pages.
Online advocates, fresh off their victory against the Stop Online Piracy Act, are now gearing up to oppose CISPA because of the disastrous effect the bill could have for private information on the internet. The bill’s opponents argue that it goes too far in the name of cybersecurity, endangering citizens’ personal online information by giving the government access to anything from users’ private emails to their browsing history.
As the fight in the Senate begins, here is everything you need to know about CISPA:
- CISPA’s broad language will likely give the government access to anyone’s personal information with few privacy protections: CISPA allows the government access to any “information pertaining directly to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity.” There is little indication of what this information could include, and what it means to be ‘pertinent’ to cyber security. Without boundaries, any internet user’s personal, private information would likely be fair game for the government.
- It supersedes all other provisions of the law protecting privacy: As the bill is currently written, CISPA would apply “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” In other words, privacy restrictions currently in place would not apply to CISPA. As a result, companies could disclose more personal information about users than necessary. Ars Technica writes, “if a company decides that your private emails, your browsing history, your health care records, or any other information would be helpful in dealing with a ‘cyber threat,’ the company can ignore laws that would otherwise limit its disclosure.”
- The bill completely exempts itself from the Freedom of Information Act.
- CISPA gives companies blanket immunity from future lawsuits
- Recent revisions don’t go nearly far enough: In an attempt to specify how the government can use the information they collect, the House passed an amendment saying the data can only be used for: “1) cybersecurity; 2) investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes; 3) protection of individuals from the danger of death or physical injury; 4) protection of minors from physical or psychological harm; and 5) protection of the national security of the United States.” This new version still “suffers from most of the same problems that plagued the original version,” writes Timothy Lee. Because terms like “cybersecurity” are so vague, the bill’s language could encompass almost anything.
- Citizens have to trust that companies like Facebook won’t share your personal information.
- Companies can already inform the government and each other about incoming cybersecurity threats.
- The internet is fighting back: The same online activists who fought hard against SOPA are now engaged in the battle over CISPA. Over 770,000 people have signed a petition by the online organizing group Avaaz that asks Congress to defeat the bill. Reddit, the news-sharing internet community that helped lead the fight against SOPA, is organizing again around CISPA.
- Most Republicans support CISPA, while most Democrats oppose it: The House passed CISPA on April 26 on a mostly-party-line vote, 248-168. Among congressmen that voted, 88 percent of Republicans supported the bill while 77 percent of Democrats opposed it.
- President Obama threatened to veto it: Recognizing the threat to civil liberties that CISPA poses, President Obama announced this week that he “strongly opposes” the bill and has threatened to veto if it comes to his desk. Obama singled out the provisions that allow for blanket legal immunity and do not enough to safeguard citizens’ private information.
CISPA Replaces SOPA As Internet’s Enemy No. 1 (Must Read)
The Internet has a new enemy. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA), also known as H.R. 3523, is a “cybersecurity” bill in the House of Representatives. While CISPA does not focus primarily on intellectual property (though that’s in there, too), critics say the problems with the bill run just as deep.
As with SOPA and PIPA, the first main concern about CISPA is its “broad language,” which critics fear allows the legislation to be interpreted in ways that could infringe on our civil liberties. The Center for Democracy and Technology sums up the problems with CISPA this way:
• The bill has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies notwithstanding privacy and other laws;
• The bill is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications as a result of this sharing;
• It is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military;
• Once the information is shared with the government, it wouldn’t have to be used for cybesecurity, but could instead be used for any purpose that is not specifically prohibited.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) adds that CISPA’s definition of “cybersecurity” is so broad that “it leaves the door open to censor any speech that a company believes would ‘degrade the network.’”
Moreover, the inclusion of “intellectual property” means that companies and the government would have “new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement.”
Furthermore, critics warn that CISPA gives private companies the ability to collect and share information about their customers or users with immunity — meaning we cannot sue them for doing so, and they cannot be charged with any crimes.
According to the EFF, CISPA “effectively creates a ‘cybersecurity’ exemption to all existing laws.”
“There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by ‘cybersecurity purposes.’” the EFF continues.
“That means a company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or AT&T could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop cybersecurity threats.”