What's worse than SOPA or PIPA? The new CISPA!
April 6, 2012 By Daniel Noe
I am sure you remember the successful movement earlier this year to
prevent Congress from passing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the
Protect IP Act (PIPA.) Tens of millions of people around the world
signed petitions from websites such as Google and Wikipedia while many
websites “went black” for a day to protest what they saw as an attempt
by the feds to censor the internet.
Unfortunately, the Republican House of Representatives and the
Democratic Senate still don’t seem to have gotten the message. You see,
while both parties claim to disagree on a lot of issues, they agree
basically that the federal government needs to police the internet in
the name of innocent-sounding reasons like “copyright protection” and
“cyber-security.” Each bill addressing these “problems” has had
bipartisan support. I wonder what part of the Constitution will be
referred to by the House in justifying the passage of one or more of
these bills into law (more on the Constitution in a bit…)
The latest bill to be introduced that threatens to censor the web is
the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA.) Some consider
it to be worse than its predecessors, unfortunately.
Essentially, CISPA allows companies to collect information about you and
then report said info to the feds. The government simply needs to
request this into in the name of cyber-security.
The actual language of
the bill is rather vague and could very well allow Congress to
monitor, censor, and delete any online communications that it considers
to be “disruptive” to the government and the big corporations and
special interests behind this anti-free internet legislation.
Kendall Burman of the Center for Democracy and Technology,
which supports a free and open internet, says that our of the several
cyber-security bills pending in Congress, CISPA is the “most alarming.”
It does not specify to whom in the government that this collected
information would go, although Ms. Burman thinks it is likely it will go
into the hands of the NSA, which is quite reassuring.
Is this bill constitutional? I know that collectivists on both sides
of the aisle who support this legislation will say something like the
following: “Back in the day while writing the Constitution, the Founders
could not have possibly predicted the rise of computer technology as
well as the downsides that come with it.” On this point in and of
itself, I agree with them; nevertheless, the Constitution does not
authorize Congress to pass laws like these (as per Article I, Section 8.)
At the very least, it imposes an enormous threat to our First Amendment
rights of free speech and a free press as well as our Fourth Amendment
rights of protection against unnecessary searches from authority.
Besides, Ms. Burman insists that law enforcement already has plenty
of tools at its disposal to combat the crimes that the co-sponsors of
this legislation are concerned with. Also, she is concerned that this
bill could lead to a “backdoor wiretap or a surveillance program” by an
innocent-sounding name (i.e. the PATRIOT Act.)
CISPA has so far been introduced, referred to, and reported by the
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The goal is to ram
this bill through the entire House later this month and then the Senate
will probably take up their version of this legislation. President Obama
so far has not openly taken a position on CISPA, although personally I
do not think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out where he
privately leans on this bill.
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about the bill is the fact that
dozens of supposedly anti-”big government” Republicans in the House are co-sponsors (the
lead sponsor is Republican Mike Rogers from Michigan). These so-called
“conservatives” include Michele Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Trent
Franks, Darrell Issa, Phil Gingey, Ben Quayle, Joe “You Lie” Wilson, Sue
Myrick, and others.
Everyone reading this should immediately call or e-mail their
Congressman and tell them to vote against this monstrosity of a bill
every chance they get. Of course if their representative is a
co-sponsor, tell them that you plan to vote for a primary challenger
unless they wash their hands of this filth.
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