Did Congress Really Not Pay Attention To What Happened With SOPA? CISPA Ignorance Is Astounding

from the again-and-again dept

Update: Check out our breakdown of the reasons CISPA is a really bad bill.

We recently wrote about how HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — or CISPA — is an incredibly bad bill that would basically make it much, much easier for the government to spy on all sorts of private communications. The bill already has over 100 sponsors, some of whom were on the right side of SOPA, but seem to have gone astray here. The concern over CISPA has been growing rapidly and the netroots are speaking out and warning Congress that this is a bill they do not want.

And yet… Congress still appears ready to move forward with CISPA the week of April 23rd. And the amazing (no, astounding) thing is that many politicians in Congress have no idea that people are up in arms over this yet. In talking to different people on Capitol Hill, the story is along the lines of “oh, is there some controversy over this?” Like SOPA early on, it appears that Congress simply takes for granted that if you call something one thing (whether it’s “stopping piracy” or “protecting cybersecurity”) no one will bother looking at the details to realize just how problematic the bill actually is.

But this is a bad, bad bill, which effectively will lead to significant spying on internet usage and private communications by the government with little to no oversight — and that includes not just domestic law enforcement, but military spying as well. The whole thing is absolutely crazy (especially when there are less onerous bills that are much more sensible).

The truly amazing part to me is the fact that politicians in Congress would simply think that there’s no problem making massive internet regulatory change without actually looking at the impact on ordinary users and how they feel about it so soon after SOPA. It seems clear that many elected officials still haven’t received the message that politicians should not be mucking with the internet when they clearly don’t understand it.

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Comments on “Did Congress Really Not Pay Attention To What Happened With SOPA? CISPA Ignorance Is Astounding”

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Pjerky (profile) says:

Doctors vs Rock Stars

Congress really needs to leave the internet alone. They obviously don’t have a clue with what they are doing. These old farts don’t know the first thing about the internet and should never try to regulate it for that very reason.

It would be like having a rock star tell a Doctor what would be the best surgical procedure to use to treat a severe medical condition. They don’t have enough working knowledge to make any such calls and any calls they do make will be horribly misinformed and highly dangerous.

Chris ODonnell (profile) says:

The only message Congress cares about is the one being sent by their corporate masters. And that message is that they need to “fix” this damn Internet problem yesterday.

Until we as US voters are willing to vote out 50% or more of the incumbents in one swoop, this isn’t going to change. Congress fears the cash flow from the masters drying up far, far more than they fear the voters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think its that the fear the loss of money more than the loss of votes. Its just that the money is always concerned with every issue in front of them and unfortunately the voters generally only get concerned over the one or two issues the mainstream press is talking about at the time. The other 99% of what they are working on none of the voters care/know about.

The money is certainly a problem but reelection money is pretty pointless if you piss of voters. Voters just have to let them know we are pissed off and there are enough of us that are aware of and concerned with a bill/issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Without the threat of violence you have absolutely NO power. It might take months or years or a decade or more for it to come to violence, but the same way the “Sheeple (ugh i hate it)” are lulled to sleep, lawmakers, and people in power are too. All laws are for control, and without the ability to force a hand, you had better not ask for much. The internet, in all it’s new sensation we could all live without, perhaps it would be hell on earth for the 10-30 crowd, but we would get over it. Other issues, would be far more terrible, but something like internet regulation with the intention of gathering information is a easy stepping stone to something more.

1. Make a place on the internet that no one should go, less they be criminal
2. Make it so savage, everyone must see it once, think “2 girls 1 cup”, no one wants to see it, but you have to.
3. compile a list of people who went there, maybe 74% of all internet users.
4. When the time is right, hand over the list of visitors to law enforcement and military, instruct them be incarcerated ASAP via marshal law, etc (time has to be about perfect)
5. Force labor exterminate and torture individuals until all problematic people are eliminated. (if you hang them all, you get the guilty)

I’m scared, I like to think our military and police would ALWAYS side with American civilians, but the only people congress needs are the people with guns.

The solution is to be the one with a gun, and it’s better that it’s everyone, the dangers of gun ownership are far outweighed by the dangers of being powerless, unless you’re an army of one with a baseball bat.

Anonymous Coward says:

What a great idea, having the government collect lots of private companies info about their users, can you think of a better agency to hack for identify theft purposes?

I guess big government is always a bad things for the republicans supporting this bill, except when you can attach the phrase ‘national security’ to big government, then it would be letting evil win if we cut even one penny of funding for whatever that big government agency is, similar to how some of them were screaming a few years ago that our military would be CRIPPLED if we returned to 2007 budget levels for the military, at the same time that they were demanding massive spending cuts to government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I suppose you’re unfamiliar with DARPA and In-Q-Tel. The government has had access to your private information for far longer than just CISPA, and they didn’t need the bill for that one, either.

This is just a way to give private companies an excuse to pry into your personal life, point blank. I may have the right to remain silent, but I won’t just idly sit by and quietly watch while my rights are ripped away from me.

We need not just a new set of representatives, but an altogether new government. It is, after all, “We the people” and not “We the corporate slaves”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, think of it – another indirect paycheck from Google for you!

Seriously, you need to pay attention here – the law makers are NOT going away. They understand that something has to be done to re-establish the balance, and all the kicking and screaming in the world isn’t going to change it.

The internet just isn’t going to be regulated by the lowest set of laws on the planet. Each country over time will take it’s stand and regulate the internet in the same manner that they regulate everything else, for the good of the people.

You may not like it, but if you are half the visionary you claim to be, you will surely see where this train is going. History is on the side of that result.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Each country over time will take it’s stand
> and regulate the internet in the same manner
> that they regulate everything else, for the
> good of the people.

The point is, genius, that the people in this country don’t think it’s good for the government to have unlimited surveillance and spying power over their every electronic communication.

And since the people in the US are the ultimate source of all legal authority, the government’s attempt to act against their will is untenable and unacceptable.

Benjo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ahh, an allusion to the wild west internet. Hard to buy your argument when you misrepresent the situation.

Seeing as they just passed a law in Arizona that makes it illegal to use offensive language on the internet, I’d say the pendulum is swinging in the wrong direction.

But hell, I guess their intentions were good. That’s what matters right? Cyber-bullies beware!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Regular people who realize that things can be said out of passion, taken out of context, or simply confused… even over the internet!
They almost made it illegal to discuss border control over the internet, that is why it’s being re-written. They would expect locking up a few hundred trolls to be a good start.

CowardlyLion says:

Re: Re:

The mention of history is interesting here, because the internet is not in that catalogue. We are representing, literally, the greatest threat to elitist dominance that has ever existed. Not only do people have a say, though it may be quiet, in back alley, “off the map” (largely), websites, but we know what is happening, largely, to a degree that the populace has never been aware before.

The reasons the corporations, and thereby the governments, are concerned with the internet is the representation of a free for all, of a true democracy, of the downfall of a tiered society, and the loss of power which has been held for so long by so few.

Government is the means of control we know, for now. Engage yours. Get email alerts through Credo and DemandProgress. Know and engage your lobbyists, your congressmen and women.

If we don’t talk, our right to talk will be taken away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Congress pays no attention to people as the ALEC scandal showed, but companies are forced to pay attention once they are targeted by public campaigns.

Maybe is time to campaign against Hollywood, labels and others to show them just how hard people can play this game.


CISPA apparently has a backdoor for IP holders since it has copyright enforcement written in plain language in that bill.


jilocasin (profile) says:

Congressional Staff: Unaware of the particulars of this legislation...

Just contacted my Congressman, unfortunately one of the bill’s cosponsors. Asking why he thinks it’s a good ideal to cosponsor this toxic bill.

Staff member says; “Really? I’m not familiar with this piece of legislation.”

That about sums it up. Like SOPA/PIPA/, our elected representatives vote/cosponsor/sponsor the bills they’re _told_ to.

Apparently, the less they know about a particular piece of legislation the better.

ZombieBotsFromMars says:

Re: Congressional Staff: Unaware of the particulars of this legislation...

I had that same convo so many times back when SOPA & PIPA: they don’t read they just sign it or support it and didn’t know what it was. Had one were the aide I got said something to the effect of “Bill number…are you sure the congressman supports that? Can you hold? Oh, I see the problem, he didn’t actually read it, he just followed the party-recommendation. You said this is related to the internet?”

Or my favorite: 20 minute long convo with a congress-critter, back and froth, pretty civil conversation that ends with “So Mr. would you consider a internship at my local office?”

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re:

“It is incredibly easy to create a moral panic among the masses who are fed pure FUD.”

Indeed. It works so well for Fox News, CNN, Talk Radio and Politicians, doesn’t it?

After all, we have to worry about those communist/atheist/Mormon/pedophiles/Muslims/Terrorists/Liberals/Tea Party/Conservatives/Obamacare/abortion/immigrants don’t we?

Let’s Get Serious for A Change says:

Congress --- of What?

You are conflating a collection of mostly bought-and-paid-for shills with a Congress “of the people”. It’s time to stop such nonsense.

The political system of America today is, like in many other countries (yes Virginia, there are other countries outside the red, white and blue walls) is totally corrupt and totally kaput.

This is serious. That which would have people believe it is the government “Of the People, By the People and For The People” is in fact the government “Of the Corporation, By the Corporation, For The Corporation and Oppressor of the People”.

There are two options: stand up and revolt, or sit back and enjoy pseudo-serfdom under the thumbs of the latest business-first hawks (the Smooth-Talking Right-Leaning Wall-Street-Planted Liar in The Expensive Suits and his partner in crime Joe Hollywood-Is-My-Master Fake Toothy-Grin Biden are just the latest demorepublicrats to oppress the people and subvert their rights after the repugnant rule of King George “Kill ’em All” Bush and Darth “Death-Knell” Cheney.

Seriously, is Mitt “Strap Your Dog On The Car Roof” being the “opponent” not proof enough that they can’t even bother trying because the outcome of the race will be “heads they win, tails you lose”? (Don’t even think about the ancient bought-off dough-boy with the other funny name).

The current “United States” is a vulgar affront to the Forefathers and embodies the antithesis of its origins.

Anonymous Coward says:

Now that we’ve seen the hysterical Techdirt interpretation, here’s the report from the CRS a non-partisan part of the Library of Congress, via GovTrack, somehow they failed to find the SOPA-esque implications:

The following summary was written by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, which serves Congress. GovTrack did not write and has no control over these summaries.

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 – Amends the National Security Act of 1947 to add provisions concerning cyber threat intelligence and information sharing. Defines “cyber threat intelligence” as information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from: (1) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (2) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information. Requires the Director of National Intelligence to: (1) establish procedures to allow intelligence community elements to share cyber threat intelligence with private-sector entities, and (2) encourage the sharing of such intelligence. Requires the procedures established to ensure that such intelligence is only: (1) shared with certified entities or a person with an appropriate security clearance, (2) shared consistent with the need to protect U.S. national security, and (3) used in a manner that protects such intelligence from unauthorized disclosure. Provides for guidelines for the granting of security clearance approvals to certified entities or officers or employees of such entities. Authorizes a cybersecurity provider (a non-governmental entity that provides goods or services intended to be used for cybersecurity purposes), with the express consent of a protected entity (an entity that contracts with a cybersecurity provider) to: (1) use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information in order to protect the rights and property of the protected entity; and (2) share cyber threat information with any other entity designated by the protected entity, including the federal government. Regulates the use and protection of shared information, including prohibiting the use of such information to gain a competitive advantage and, if shared with the federal government, exempts such information from public disclosure. Prohibits a civil or criminal cause of action against a protected entity, a self-protected entity (an entity that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself), or a cybersecurity provider acting in good faith under the above circumstances. Directs the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to submit annually to Congress a review of the sharing and use of such information by the federal government, as well as recommendations for improvements and modifications to address privacy and civil liberties concerns. Preempts any state statute that restricts or otherwise regulates an activity authorized by the Act.”

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re:

“Prohibits a civil or criminal cause of action against a protected entity, a self-protected entity (an entity that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself), or a cybersecurity provider acting in good faith under the above circumstances.”

That, right there, is one of the many reasons it needs to die.

Watchit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From what I gathered from this it allows a “protected entity”, which could be anyone, to contract a “Cybersecurity Provider” to gather info on anything as long as long as it constitutes a “cyber-security threat” something that is neither specific and can be easily proven to be anything. The “protected entity” may then share that information with the government or “any other entity designated by the protected entity”, which again could be anyone. The worst part is “Preempts any state statute that restricts or otherwise regulates an activity authorized by the Act,” this means that states will have no say in the matter on the bill, as anything they pass to nullify the bill will be rendered pointless. So, my conclusion is that it is the government’s attempt to get a free card whenever it wants any information it can’t readily get by calling it a “cyber security threat”.

A couple good things I did see were that the information could not be used for commercial purposes, though since this summary doesn’t go into much detail on how that will work it is hard to tell how effective it will really be in reality.

Another thing is the oversight board, but this is a double edged sword. While it may be used to genuinely protect privacy and civil liberties, they only give recommendations that may or may not be followed. The worst case being suggestions that make the bill even worse.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

CISPA will have the following effects.

1. It will make the Internet less secure. Much less secure.

2. It will lead directly to mass compromises of personal information.

3. The combination of 1 and 2 will enable/empower spammers, phishers, carders, stalkers, and other nasties in ways that they’ve hoped for in their wildest dreams.

4. It will be used as a pretense for increased governmental involvement in IT security — never mind that governments, at all levels, are hopeless incompetent when it comes to security. (Read any GAO report. It’s so bad that it’s laughable.)

5. It will be used to place the appearance of security far above the reality of security. (It already has, in fact.)

6. It will cost a fortune. (And that money won’t just evaporate: it’ll go into the already-bulging pockets of contractors, the pigs at the trough — places like Stratfor, eager to take tens of millions of dollars for producing sophomoric drivel.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Of course they assume that

it appears that Congress simply takes for granted that if you call something one thing (whether it’s “stopping piracy” or “protecting cybersecurity”) no one will bother looking at the details

Of course they do. They themselves only really look at the titles, so why would they even consider that anyone else would look deeper than that?

Anonymous Coward says:

“the biggest reasons that Senators know nothing about the problems with the Bill or the bad feelings it is causing are, because they dont read what is in the Bill,”

How does that make them different than any of the other Chicken Little denizens of Techdirt? btw, it’s a House bill- not Senate. But if yourself had bothered reading it, you’d know that fact.

If it is so SOPA-like, as many claim; then where is the MPAA, RIAA, studios, labels and publishers?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Its more than that. Note the EFF statement:

Rainey Reitman and Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement outlining their concerns about the inclusion of intellectual property in CISPA.

?It?s a little piece of SOPA wrapped up in a bill that?s supposedly designed to facilitate detection of and defense against cybersecurity threats.”

rubberpants says:

Actually, they paid a lot of attention

Their current strategy to hand control of the Internet to the legacy industries and/or extract funding from Google is to do so under the guise of protection from terrorism, (a.k.a. cybersecurity).

They’re hoping that the public’s fear of terrorism will overpower their desire for a free and open Internet and head-off any widespread Internet protests.

They have a lot of donors in those legacy industries who will pony up for the election this year if they can deliver.

Of course, there are a lot of potential donors in the new Internet space, but they can only extract donations from them if they can regulate them.

These attempts at Internet regulation basically say to companies like Google, “See what we can do? You’d better play ball and open the spigot or we’ll make things difficult for you.”

By the way, I predicted this strategy earlier this year:


rubberpants says:

Re: Re: Actually, they paid a lot of attention

Which of the following is not true?

1. People are afraid of terrorists
2. Legacy content providers want more control of the Internet
3. Congressmen want contributions from legacy content providers
4. Congressmen want contributions from Google
5. Congress sometimes uses regulation or threat of regulation as a lever to increase campaign contributions
6. Companies expect something in return for their contributions

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actually, they paid a lot of attention

Of course, there are a lot of potential donors in the new Internet space, but they can only extract donations from them if they can regulate them.

I know its too much to ask you to read the bill, but you should at least see who has come out for and against it before you make a complete fool of yourself… again.

Simple Mind (profile) says:

Too Many Laws.

We should take just one election cycle (4 yrs) and say that in that cycle congress can pass no new laws and must instead spend the entire time revisiting and removing old broken laws. This idea probably needs some incentive to get them to actually remove laws (eg. $million to the congress critter that removes the most). But I am not sure what a good incentive is that would get the most accomplished.

Michael says:

Bad assumption

The author makes the incorrect assumption that Congress does not want Americans spied on. When you correct that misconception, their behavior makes perfect sense. When have they ever willingly done anything for either privacy or personal freedom without being pressured? The very concepts of privacy and personal freedom are anathema to governments and their goals.

Anonymous Coward says:

what do they plan to accomplish by passing anything on the internet? all I see out of this is an attempt to watch the every move of everyone. we are not the world police…knowledge, like everything else, is good in certain doses – knowing too much makes you a target, and knowing too little makes you unable to see what’s happening around you…i dont know which congress is, but they definitely need a freakin’ reality check.

Anthony (user link) says:

On Spying...

They’re already spying on us pretty thoroughly. A few years ago when tensions heated up between Lebanon and Israel I was talking to my mom on my cell phone. I asked her if any bombs hit Beirut and if our family was okay, my call was then promptly disconnected and an operator came on the line and told me that we could not continue the conversation, no explanation was given and she hung up. My cell phone service at the time was AT&T.

hmm (profile) says:

If CISPA passes

How long before someone makes a firefox/chrome plugin that everytime you visit ANY site, throws out a load of random searches for uranium, nuclear tech, death to the west, terrorist training camps etc.

If you fill government servers with enough crap every single DNS request would contain thousands of items of crap…good look filtering through that to find whats real.

Eol (user link) says:

cispa sopa acta and the rest

I fully agree with anonymous coward – data gathering and citizen snooping has been going on for centuries – did everybody forget about echelon and spies covering the face of the earth (just like today) during the cold-war ? – data gathering is now used for advertising target audiences, and for corporations to protect their intellectual property – but one should simply accept the fact that ‘citizen privacy’ is over!!! – today e-eyes r everywhere even in your bedroom and bathroom – wtf? u expect to defeat this then place your house in a faraday cage or by a gsm blocker which is illegal in most countries – http://www.zmerchnews.com – there is no way out of it – smart meters, smart phones, surveillance devices forget it – it is the way it is – and if modern life is a corrupt system – it will eventually and automatically collapse upon itself – http://www.zmerchnews.com – it will implode! so just relax, drink a pina-colada and enjoy the eventual implosion…. http://www.zmerchnews.com ….

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