Last-minute opposition to the CISPA, which has been criticized as a “Big Brother” cybersecurity bill, is growing as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares for a vote this week.
Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate, warned in a statement and YouTube video today that CISPA represents the “latest assault on Internet freedom.” Paul warned that “CISPA is Big Brother writ large,” and said that he hopes that “the public responds to CISPA as it did to SOPA back in January.”
In addition, 18 Democratic House members signed a letter warning that CISPA “does not include necessary safeguards” and that critics have raised “real and serious privacy concerns.” The number of people signing an anti-CISPA petition is now at more than 718,000, up about 100,000 from a week ago.
CISPA would permit, but not require, Internet companies to hand over confidential customer records and communications to the U.S. National Security Agency and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
It’s hardly clear, however, that this wave of opposition will be sufficient.
CISPA — also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — has 113 congressional sponsors. Instead of dropping off as criticism mounted, which is what happened with the SOPA protests in January, more continue to sign up, with six new sponsors adding themselves in the last week.
Foes of CISPA are hoping to submit amendments that, they believe, would defang the most objectionable portions. The House GOP leadership has scheduled a vote on CISPA for this Friday. Proposed amendments to CISPA are required to be submitted to the House Rules committee by 1:30 p.m. PT tomorrow.
What sparked the privacy worries — including opposition from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Library Association, the ACLU, and the Republican Liberty Caucus — is the section of CISPA that says “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share information “with any other entity, including the federal government.”
By including the word “notwithstanding,” CISPA’s drafters intended to make their legislation trump all existing federal and state civil and criminal laws. It would render irrelevant wiretap laws, Web companies’ privacy policies, educational record laws, medical privacy laws, and more. (It’s so broad that the non-partisan Congressional Research Service once warned that using the term in legislation may “have unforeseen consequences for both existing and future laws.”)
A position paper on CISPA from Rogers and Ruppersberger says their bill is necessary to deal with threats from China and Russia and that it “protects privacy by prohibiting the government from requiring private sector entities to provide information.” In addition, they stress that “no new authorities are granted to the Department of Defense or the intelligence community to direct private or public sector cybersecurity efforts.”
And so the attacks against freedom of speech and other liberties continue to march on with substantial Congressional support. Hey, you either elected them or didn’t vote.
Thanks to Declan McCullagh and CNET NEWS, and
thanks for “listening”
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