This coming week, Congress is set to take up another so-called “cybersecurity” bill, H.R. 3523, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011” (CISPA). And this time, many of those who joined us to stop SOPA and PIPA are supporting this legislation. So only the immediate action of you and your fellow C4L members can help protect our privacy from the government’s ever-expanding reach. After our victory over SOPA/PIPA, we wrote to you in late February about the need to stay vigilant against Congress’ attempts to assert more control over the Internet. Well, since then, Republicans and Democrats have introduced at least four major “cybersecurity” bills. Expanding government power is always bipartisan.
CISPA, sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-8), is promoted as a harmless bill that will enable voluntary “information sharing” between private corporations and government agencies in the name of “cybersecurity.”
Unfortunately, it would allow the transfer of vast amounts of data, including information like your Internet browsing history or email content, to any agency in the federal government, including non-civilian agencies such as the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command.
One major problem with these alleged “cybersecurity” bills is their overly broad focus on what information private companies are encouraged to share with federal agencies.
CISPA currently contains no incentive for private companies like Facebook or Google to remove personally identifiable information from data they share.
In addition, the way this legislation is drafted, it currently overrides privacy presumptions found in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the Communications Act regarding the privacy of an individual’s online communications and related records.
Essentially, CISPA would deem all existing privacy laws null and void for “cybersecurity” purposes.
Once the government has this information, there are no meaningful restrictions on its use, as its only qualifier is that it must be related to “cybersecurity” or to protect “national security.”
As C4L members know too well, “national security” has become a catch-all excuse for government power grabs since 9/11.
Finally, while the bill includes a requirement for the Director of National Intelligence’s Inspector General to issue annual reports on how the government is using the information shared under the bill, such reports would only be provided to congressional intelligence committees.
These reports would not constitute meaningful restrictions or do anything to dissuade the misuse of personal information shared under CISPA.
Unlike the January 18 “Internet blackout” over SOPA and PIPA, this time Internet giants like Facebook and Twitter are openly supporting CISPA, along with powerful special interest groups like the US Chamber of Commerce.
In other words, don’t expect the cavalry to back us up on this one.
And House Leadership is currently engaged in a full-court press effort to get your representative to support H.R. 3523.
Sources on the Hill have informed us of “members only” meetings, where representatives are being encouraged to vote for CISPA as a “national security” issue addressing a “credible” “cybersecurity threat.”
Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that this briefing comes conveniently just ahead of when the establishment wants to ram something through.
In the face of such longshot odds, without your immediate action, we can’t promise that we have even the slightest chance of beating back this egregious invasion of your privacy, but we all know the power the liberty movement can have when it speaks out with a unified voice. Members of Congress have taken notice, too.
That’s why we trust you’ll contact Congress right away.
Stay up-to-date on this bill here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3523