Government Representatives Using 'Cybersecurity,' 'Terrorism' As Excuses To Further Trample The Bill Of Rights

from the they're-not-'rights'-so-much-as-they-are-'privileges,'-appar dept

Well, Facebook no longer needs to be the scapegoat when it comes to harvesting your personal information and doing nefarious things with it. Now, thanks to the House of Representatives, you can look forward to "a broad swath of ISPs and other private entities" collecting your personal data and sharing it with "the government, other businesses, or "any other entity" so long as it's for a vaguely-defined "cybersecurity purpose."

This is yet another governmental attempt to harvest personal internet usage data in hopes of somehow preventing something bad from happening in the future, all under the pretense of being hip deep in a "cyberwar." If you're looking to see who's spearheading this new attempt to rifle through your internet drawers, look no further than the bipartisan team of Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger.

And they're working with un-Representative-like speed. EFF posted this information on November 30th and they are already trying to move it out of committee today (December 1st). If someone is trying to push something through posthaste, generally speaking, it's a terrible bit of legislation that would raise all sorts of objections if left out in the sunlight for any length of time.

As it's written, this bill would "trump existing privacy statutes that strictly limit the interception and disclosure of your private communications data, as well as any other state or federal law that might get in the way," even opening the door for spyware installation. (For your own protection, of course.)

The bad news gets worse:
This broad data-sharing between companies wouldn't be subject to any oversight or transparency measures (users can't restrict companies' sharing), while the only oversight for sharing with the federal government, ironically, would be through the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board-which hasn't existed since January 2008.

Worse yet, the bill doesn't limit what the federal government can do with the data or private communications that ISPs and others hand over, except to say that it can't be used for "regulatory" purposes-apparently it can be used for law enforcement and intelligence targeting purposes.

Perhaps at the top of the list is concern over the fact that the bill allows information sharing with any federal agency-including the National Security Agency (NSA)-thereby threatening civilian control of domestic cybersecurity efforts.
This privacy-trampling rush job follows on the heels of another bill, rushed through the Senate on the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend. This one concerns itself with terrorism, or at least uses it as an excuse. The National Defense Authorization Act seeks to bring the war on terror back to the homefront:
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president-and every future president - the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night's Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
Redefining the battlefield in order to use the military as a police force is generally the sort of thing totalitarian nations do, not nations that continue to tout a never-ending "War on Terrorism" as an essential part of securing our "freedom." This bill will now allow American citizens to join in on the "fun" that was previously only available to foreign arrestees:
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.
Now, whatever rights Americans might have had (like say, a speedy trial or the right to confront their accusers) are being removed and replaced with the "right" to sit in a detention center for the rest of whatever without ever being charged with a crime. Once again, a bipartisan team (Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain) put aside their political differences to draft the bill in secret and pass it in a closed committee without a single hearing.

Sen. Mark Udall tried to pass an amendment which would remove "the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power" but was shot down 61-37. Rand Paul went toe-to-toe with McCain, pointing out the audacious sweep of this bill:
"Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won," Paul argued, "[D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American."
McCain responded by fashioning a pair of blinders out of the American flag and (as Reason puts it so well) "puking up a rainbow of pro-America, pro-democracy, anti-terrorist drivel in response to Paul's very direct question":
"Facts are stubborn things," McCain repeated from the floor several times. "If the senator from Kentucky wants to have a situation prevail where people who are released go back in to the fight to kill Americans, he is entitled to his opinion."
And that is how you rationalize "indefinite detention": without it, Americans will die.

In case anyone out there is getting ready to argue that this bill doesn't target Americans, the ACLU has an answer for you:
There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.
All it takes is the order, and that's the whole point of the bill: to grant the President that specific power. And if you don't believe the ACLU's take, just read what one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor:
"1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland."
Ah, the "homeland." You'd think that the people drafting bills like this would avoid using a term that conjures up images of dictators turning on their own citizens in order to maintain their power. But, if we've learned nothing else from the past decade, it's that our representatives in Washington clearly don't care what the public thinks. After all, we're just a bunch of suspects.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    ""1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland."

    So...this one guy has basically said that the United States has declared war on the entire planet?

     

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      The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:20pm

      Re:

      Get out while the gettin's good!

       

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      crchase, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      no this 'one guy' has declared that cyber terrorism ignores man made and natural boards and must be confronted where and when it occurs. I agree with that principle, but I disagree with the method laid out in this bill. Between this and SOPA we might as well just shut the internet down completely.

       

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        nasch (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re:

        Between this and SOPA we might as well just shut the internet down completely.

        The NDAA isn't really internet related, it's about allowing the military to come to your house, arrest you, and throw you in a military prison forever without charging you with a crime. It's hard to even believe such a law is being considered in the US. I hope Obama breaks form and vetoes it.

         

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Facebook is not a "scapegoat", that means WRONGLY blamed.

    Facebook is PLENTY guilty of data mining and selling that data, without disclosing it, independently of all else. Don't let 'em off the hook as if yet worse excuses its crimes.

    Similarly, I've been thinking for some time that SOPA is just a distraction for these much worse bills. Welcome to reality.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 4:39pm

      Re: Facebook is not a "scapegoat", that means WRONGLY blamed.

      Holy crap...a comment from Blue that actually makes sense? My god...I never thought I'd see the day. Well done Blue! Thank you for this comment.
      (and no, I'm actually not being sarcastic there. Yes, really well done, for reals!)

       

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        Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:35pm

        Re: Re: Facebook is not a "scapegoat", that means WRONGLY blamed.

        OotB has pretty good comments ever so often. Yes, they seem kind of rare and far between but this is definitely not the first one.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 9:21pm

      Re: Facebook is not a "scapegoat", that means WRONGLY blamed.

      I do not agree that the other bills are a sleight of hand to draw away attention from bills like this, but I must note that much of this bill troubles me greatly, both from a privacy perspective, but also because I have trouble envisioning how it could possibly work without monitoring in real time private communications.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:04am

      Re: Facebook is not a "scapegoat", that means WRONGLY blamed.

      Whaaa.... What just happened?!?!
      I'm solidly agreeing with OOTB!!

      I feel dirty....

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    I have found that when people use the prefix "cyber" it's shorthand for "I don't know anything about computers."

    For example:

    Cyberspace
    Cyberwar
    Cybercrime
    Cyberbullying
    Cyberterror

    For more examples, please consult your local TV news. I can't think of a single instance where somebody who was even slightly knowledgeable about computers used any of these phrases (with the possible example of "cyberspace," but only in the mid-nineties).

    It's actually kind of convenient.

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 4:57pm

    Hail, hail Freedonia! Land of the brave and free!

     

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    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:01pm

    Who owns the patent on Jack Boots?
    They are going to be reich .... err I mean rich.

    Maybe one should copyright goose stepping.
    Hello fellow graduate of the ministry of silly walks

     

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    Bob V (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:17pm

    You know the worst part of these bills, it makes all the crazies holed up in compounds in the mountains with stockpiled weapons seem reasonable.

     

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    Blaine (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Spelling error

    "After all, we're just a bunch of suspects."


    After all, we're just a bunch of subjects.

     

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    LyleD, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:34pm

    Seriously, WTF!

    will give this president-and every future president - the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.

    You know, I'm from a supposedly friendly allied western country.. But your government is seriously overstepping the mark when you think you can just walk in kidnap anyone anywhere in the world!

    It's no wonder some people around the world hate Americans, you wave a fucking flag saying 'Hate Us' !

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 5:36pm

    Congress' new motto

    We are the 1%!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 6:04pm

    "1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the FATHERLAND."

    There I fixed for them.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 6:49pm

    When I told people 6-7 years ago that this is where we were headed I got told; you are paranoid, a conspiracy theorist, a tin foil hat wearer, and every other derogatory name in the book. Well guess what... I sometimes hate to be right.

    They are putting the squeeze on us, backing us up against a wall, legally and financially. Either by bankrupting the country, or putting place such draconian laws as to really piss ppl off to the point where we take to the streets, or a combination of both, and that will be the end. Those who choose to fight will be swept up in FEMA camps never to be seen again. Those who try to help them will be labeled domestic terrorists, and will meet the same fate. They will have the excuse they need. Continuity of government.

     

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    worldscolide, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 7:40pm

    this is just BS

    i'm so done with America, it has lost my loyalty and respect.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 8:34pm

    Yet again, proud to say Udall is my senator. He seems to be fighting the good fight in stuff like this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 9:28pm

    One should read the definitions very carefully and take note of the type of information subsumed in such definitions.

    While I can conceive of some situations where IP and other technical disclosures might have serious national security implications (i.e., information controlled under our export control laws under the Export Administration Act and the Arms Export Control Act), absent export controlled information there is a very broad overreach here.

    Frankly, read this bill and both SOPA and Protect-IP may look tame by comparison.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 10:42pm

    SOPA and PIPA where just the government testing the waters since nobody complained now they want to go full throttle.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 10:59pm

    About this cyber nonsense I saw just this week the cyber-scare with some outlets pushing the hacking of water pumps in the US which turned out to be a hoax and now I'm reading the mother of all ironies a TSA agent is suing the government for sexual harrassament on the job after being grouped by a co-worker LoL

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/11/30/41802.htm

    Maybe she should just shut up and put up with it since what she does to others for a living is exactly what prompted her to complain.

     

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      weneedhelp (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:14am

      Re:

      "TSA agent is suing the government for sexual harrassament on the job after being grouped by a co-worker LoL"

      They will just say it was on the job training.

       

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    A Guy (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 11:34pm

    Habeas Corpus

    "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

    As soon as any immediate danger passes, the "Rebellion" is over and those detained should get a hearing. I hope it doesn't pass, but if it does the bill needs judicial over site.

    At a minimum, the government should be forced to file the name of every individual detained with the court, and to periodically show that the detention is Constitutional.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 11:50pm

    The biggest security threat to the American people actually is the American government along with rogue content owners :)

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 11:58pm

    Let them pass it, as long as it applies to the congress critter as well.
    Then we can have them arrested for using terrorist techniques to force the country to bend to their will.
    We can rip the bankers from their homes for detonating the economy, causing terror and panic.

    Anyone else feel like we fell into the world of V for Vendetta?
    That those tinfoil hat wearing people we made fun of for conspiracy theories of the Government putting plots into motion to keep us afraid and bending to their will, might just have been right?
    People believe what the talking heads tell them and never turn a critical eye to the claims, they think those who speak out are just rocking the boat... all the while refusing to see the boat is sinking and we are all screwed.

     

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    tom, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 12:04am

    ah the. land of the free- kind of makes a monarchy look not so bad. though i am jealous of iceland.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 2:37am

    I'm glad to see more people are aware of the "homeland battlefield" bill. It'd be silly if martial law were declared and nobody noticed.

     

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      abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:48am

      Re:

      "it'd be silly if martial law were declared and nobody noticed."

      Already has been ... but it is a double secret martial law.

       

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    Richard (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:25am

    Syria

    On the news last night I saw an item on how the technology used for this surveillance is being sold to the Syrian government - the result is that anyone who posts stuff on the internet relating to the anti-government protests is actually in more danger than the protestors on the street.

    The stupid assumption made by the people who push these things is that they will only be used by benign governments - unfortunately once the technology is out there the nasty governments can use it too - and it turns out our governments aren't that benign anyway.

     

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      abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:55am

      Re: Syria

      Yeah, our gov officially supports the uprising in Egypt while at the same time allowing US based corps to sell pepper spray to the Egyptian army. This sort of thing might not be widely known if it were not for the internet. Gee, I wonder why the puppet masters want to kill the internet.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:51am

      Re: Syria

      "is that they will only be used by benign governments "

      You made a critical mistake, there are no benign governments. Governments always seek to expand themselves and their control over the population. Its a mental defect of having power. When you have power over others, you always believe all your actions are the right one. And rationalize any things that is objected to as "its for the good of XXXXXXX".

       

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    Joe, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:29am

    Faith

    Given how accurate they are with the do not fly list and implementation how can this possibly go wrong?

    How long until terrorists start using ID theft or just take common names to get the government to arrest obviously innocent civilians without trail our due process? Also how much of those errors will people accept before they revolt?

    How long until reporters are arrested for writing about the truth?

    This is just a scary bill.

     

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    Joe, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:29am

    Faith

    Given how accurate they are with the do not fly list and implementation how can this possibly go wrong?

    How long until terrorists start using ID theft or just take common names to get the government to arrest obviously innocent civilians without trail our due process? Also how much of those errors will people accept before they revolt?

    How long until reporters are arrested for writing about the truth?

    This is just a scary bill.

     

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    DEANE, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:31am

    america the beautiful where have you went?

    you morphed into a dictator now and you have made me scared.

    america where art though ?

     

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    Pixelation, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:55am

    Goodbye Constitution

    At a glance it looks like this tramples on Amendments 4,5,6,and 8.

    It used to be the Bill of Rights, now it's the Bill of Maybe.

     

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    abd gum, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 5:00am

    It would be interesting to see the reaction if congress, wht house, etc washrooms were fitted with toilet paper dispensers which dolled out bill-o-rights toilet paper. I can hear the convo now ... "Hey I wiped with the first amendment - what'd you get?"

     

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    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:08am

    Sounds like the WWII "enemy" Internment Camps, which we know were so effective and necessary, that now Congress thinks it's a good idea to extend to everyone.

    It must be so easy to make these decisions when you know you get to be the one holding the stick.

     

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    Tophe, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Would the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 legalize what Carrier IQ has been caught doing on our cellphones and is that the reason for this hasty bill?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Research Carrier ID on every phone. Talking about data mining.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    reminds me of homefront. only its US soldiers taking people off to never bee seen again instead of north koreans.

    not that i really see that much of a difference anymore other then the better guns...


    *waits for door to be kicked in*

     

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    Rekrul, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:22pm

    You know the oath that politicians and military personnel take, which says that they will defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic?

    They have become the domestic enemies that they swore to defend against.

    It's crap like this that makes me ashamed to be an American...

     

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