Monday, April 29, 2013

Big Brother Never Goes Away-- CISPA Is A Real Danger To American Liberties


If you watched Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on CNN's State of the Nation yesterday, you may recall him warning that the government is approaching a "dangerous line" when it comes to violating the Constitutional mandates on certain guaranteed liberties, like privacy. Chaffetz, who wasn't one of only 29 Republicans who joined most Democrats in opposing Mike Rogers' Big Brother CISPA legislation April 18, seemed to take issue with a dullard colleague of his, Marsha Blackburn who wants more intrusion, not less. (She was out shopping for new platforms with Michele Bachmann at Hu's Shoes's on M Street when the vote was taken, so isn't on the record one way or the other.) “We have a very dangerous line," Chaffetz retorted, "I don’t want my federal government going in and searching my Facebook page."

As we mentioned the day after the vote, Boehner and Cantor lined up all the little zombies, like Chaffetz, to vote for CISPA, which Obama has threatened to veto. The NO-votes came predominantly from progressive Democrats plus an odd assortment of Republicans-- libertarians like Justin Amash (R-MI), Jimmy Duncan (R-TN), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Walter Jones (R-NC), delusional paranoids like Steve Stockman (R-TX), Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Paul Broun (R-GA), what's left of their moderate wing, like Chris Gibson (R-NY) and... well Chris Gibson's about it, and then the usual Boehner-haters who just want to be on record opposing him and Cantor as much as possible, like Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK). Amash explained the anti-Boehner position on his Facebook page last Friday:
I voted no on H R 624, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). This year's version includes marginal improvements over last year's bill, which I also opposed, but these changes don't go far enough to protect people's private data, and many of the bill's most significant problems remain unaddressed. Like last year, the bill overrides federal and state privacy laws and contracts. It exempts private entities from all federal and state liability when they share "cyber threat information" with the federal government-- a term broadly defined to mean any information "directly pertaining to... [a] threat to [] a system or network," which could include your personally identifiable information, such as e-mails.

Under CISPA, companies are actually *prohibited* from making legally binding commitments to protect users' personal data and e-mail. Without facing liability, companies have no means of assuring customers or employees that they will follow through on their privacy agreements, which means companies cannot easily compete in the area of user privacy. House leadership killed my bipartisan amendment to fix this problem, denying it a full vote on the House floor. My simple, quarter-page amendment merely asserted that CISPA's liability exemption did not give companies authority "to breach a contract with another party." It certainly would have passed unanimously or almost unanimously. By rejecting this amendment, the Committee on Rules voted to void private contracts and undermine the Rule of Law.

The bill also inappropriately allows the government to use the information it receives from private entities for purposes other than cybersecurity, such as protecting individuals generally "from the danger of death or serious bodily harm," investigating and prosecuting certain crimes, and protecting minors. And the government may search through the information it receives to find specific information pertaining to these items, trampling on our Fourth Amendment right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rep. Jared Polis offered an amendment, which I cosponsored, that would have ensured the government could use information shared with it under CISPA *only* to prevent imminent cyber attacks, but again, the Committee on Rules rejected this important change.

Cybersecurity is a real concern for the federal government and many public and private entities. But CISPA goes far beyond what is necessary to ensure the government and the private sector have the information and tools needed to protect against cyber threats. Just a few simple changes (many of which were offered as amendments but rejected by the Committee on Rules) would have made CISPA more protective of your privacy and civil liberties while still reducing legal barriers to timely sharing of actual cyber threat intelligence. House leadership rejected these changes without even permitting a vote on the amendments.
CISPA's author, Mike Rogers, who likened Amash and his allies to "14-year-old tweeters in their basement," wants to run for the open Michigan Senate seat. Amash could dash his hopes

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