DALLAS, May 18th, 2012 - H.R. 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, authored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), is the most audacious, frightening legislation this Congress has passed, which considering indefinite detention is now legal, says a lot. CISPA passed in a surprisingly rushed vote and moves to the Senate next. Here’s what you need to know:
- This legislation will destroy the Internet and your privacy. It will give private companies and government employees authorization to secretly access your text messages, emails, posts on Facebook, Internet search history or private messages without any oversight;
- The legislation also allows these agencies to intercept communications between people without informing the people they’re doing so;
- Private companies cannot be prosecuted for any mistakes they make;
- The Department of Homeland Security is authorized to stalk, intercept and retain the private emails of citizens without a court order even if they have done nothing wrong;
- The Internal Revenue Service is authorized to review private correspondences via text messages (through your cell phone provider) or emails if they decide to audit you over a few dollars;
- A profile of your every click, search terms and movement on the Internet could be cataloged by your IP address and accessible to government departments which could get hacked at any time or decide to stalk you in person because you’re a member of the Tea Party or the ACLU or some other activist group, just like they did with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights activists, but now they will operate without restriction.
Consider the ACLU’s scathing call for action:
Think for a minute about all the things in your life that are kept on computers, but you would like to keep private. How about your medical records? Your banking and financial records? What about your education or library records? How about the things you bought on Amazon last year? Or those love letters you emailed? Or the political opinions you share with close friends?
Do you think the bureaucrats and spies at the National Security Agency have any right to gather that information on you, when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong? What if we tell you that once the NSA has the information, it can keep it forever, share it with whomever it deems necessary, and that no court will be able to look over the NSA’s shoulder and keep it in check? Yet that is exactly the scheme envisioned by the champions of CISPA. Does Congress really think our Founding Fathers would support this?
Congress is considering legislation that would give companies a free pass to monitor and collect communications, including huge amounts of personal data like your text messages and emails, and share that data with the government and anyone else. All a company has to do is claim its privacy violations were for “cybersecurity purposes.” Tell Congress that they can’t use vaguely-defined “cybersecurity threats” as a shortcut to bypassing the law.
H.R. 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, would let companies spy on users and share private information with the federal government and other companies with near-total immunity from civil and criminal liability. It 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.” 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.
Worst of all, the stated definition of “cybersecurity” is so broad, it leaves the door open to censor any speech that a company believes would “degrade the network.” The bill specifically mentions that cybersecurity can include protecting against the “theft or misappropriation of private or government information” including “intellectual property.” Such sweeping language would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.
Congress wants to use the threat of “cybersecurity” to undermine our digital rights. Tell your lawmakers that we won’t stand for dangerous, unsupervised information sharing in this bill or any bill like it.
Without Rule of Law, we are governed by the will and ego of individuals. Without the power of rights, we are no better than China or Iran. This is what we’re allowing to happen to our country. Will we squander the greatest set of liberties ever designed to foster individual liberty.
Take action now:
Nothing is more important.