Tragically, the “new” CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) has again passed the House (288-127 vote) and will now graduate to the Senate, where (hopefully) it will be struck down once more. This was more or less expected, despite best efforts by the online community and privacy advocates – there was little resistance in the House. And naturally, like all monsters in countless horror films, no great evil is ever defeated the first time ’round.
For those neophytes, CISPA provides the government the ability to inspect all of your private data, including web history, text messages, emails, etc. if you are suspected of being a cybersecurity threat. The definition of this threat is exceptionally broad – a “threat to the network” is grounds for them to demand your information from companies with access to this data. Or a perceived threat to the intellectual property rights of a US based company. Or if they suspect that there is “danger to children” or that someone may be at “risk of bodily harm.” If the government snoops create some mystery scenario where any of these situations, factual or perceived, can exist they are exempt to all laws pertaining to personal privacy where it concerns your information.
This version was “amended” to reflect concerns about privacy laws, but it was amended in the most absurd fashion imaginable. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The amendment in question does not strike or amend the part of CISPA that actually deals with data flowing from companies to other entities, including the federal government. The bill still says that: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes…share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government.” The liability immunity provisions also remain.
While this amendment does change a few things about how that information is treated within the government, it does not amend the primary sharing section of the bill and thus would not prevent companies from sharing data directly with military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency if they so choose.
Amidst the amendments was a measure to include the dreaded DHS in this whole quagmire – yes that same DHS that is stockpiling ammunition and tanks at rates unseen before. (D)Rep Jackson Lee introduced the Dept. into the mix (from Cnet):
While it appears that Rep. Jackson Lee sought to include several safeguards to limit DHS from improperly using and collecting information that flows on federal networks, those safeguards are essentially toothless. Under her amendment, the Secretary of Homeland Security need only “certif[y]” that the collection or interception of information by DHS complies with the various safeguards and limitations. But the Secretary of Homeland Security has the sole discretion to interpret the language of the safeguards as she sees fit. It appears that no judge or legislator can second-guess a Secretary’s “certification” that a particular DHS information use accords with the bill’s safeguards.
So instead of us having to worry about the NSA, we also get the DHS snooping and spying as well. Naturally though, this is all to protect us. Not our rights, mind you. Never those. But to protect our jobs, according to (R) Mike Rogers, one of the sponsors of the bill, who used the tried and true scare tactic of economic anarchy to push this atrocity through. Minutes before the final vote, Rogers riled up the crowd by using a company as an analogy that lost billions in revenue to a Chinese company due to IP theft, and then skipped over to another to decry the loss of 20,000 manufacturing jobs. Quake in your boots, ye children, should this bill go unpassed, this is your future!
His theatrics worked. The bill passed handily. The jesters of the House grinned widely, glad-handed each others sweaty, money-stained paws and clapped each others backs in celebration at stripping away the rights of the Americans they are supposed to defend. CISPA has cleared ring one of the three in this circus.
I’ll be updating this with a list of the filthy rapscallions who voted “yea” on this bill shortly, so you know where to properly direct your ire. ROLL CALL LIST HERE