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Next Week: The Senate Fights Over Whether It Can Take Away Your Online Privacy

from the pay-attention dept

If you haven’t been keeping up on all the politics of the cybersecurity bill fight over the past few weeks, a new bill was recently introduced that at least had some improvements concerning privacy (though it still had lots of problems). Yesterday, the Senate basically made it clear that they’re done with debating the issue, and will bring the new bill to a vote next week. But now the real fight begins: the fight over the amendments on the bill. A whole bunch of amendments have already been proposed, with a second batch expected to be filed on Monday.

Senator McCain is leading the charge with a whole slew of amendments which are designed to delete basically every last bit of privacy protection that is in the bill. Among many, many other things, McCain’s amendments would take away the limitation that any information sharing not go directly to the NSA. As we’ve noted in the past, a lot of this is a turf battle over whether NSA or Homeland Security gets control of the info, and McCain has been “Team NSA’s” biggest cheerleader all along. Furthermore, he wants to remove the limitation that the information can only be used for cybersecurity reasons, making the use of the information much, much broader. There are also all sorts of efforts to take away government liability if information is abused. Basically, everything that’s useful or good in protecting privacy? McCain and a few other Senators seem to want to take that away.

On the flip side, there are a few good amendments to increase privacy. Senators Al Franken and Rand Paul are pushing an amendment to strengthen the privacy protections. Senator Wyden is pushing an amendment that basically includes his GPS Act, which basically says law enforcement can’t track GPS data without a warrant.

Either way, next week is going to be quite a big fight in the Senate, and the “marginally better” Cybersecurity Act may quickly turn into somethinghorribly destructive to your online privacy. If you care about your privacy, now (and all next week) would be a good time to call your Senator and tell them that any attempt to weaken privacy protections is unacceptable, and that they should get behind the proposals to strengthen privacy protections.

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Comments on “Next Week: The Senate Fights Over Whether It Can Take Away Your Online Privacy”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: McCain

You don’t need to know how to use a computer or the internet to know that privacy protection is a ruse that allows terrorists to more easily terrorize. Especially on new fangled tech-no-logical thingamjigs.

New Regulations = New Jobs

What? You don’t like jobs? He is just trying, while spying, to get this economy back on track.

Anonymous Coward says:

such a shame that once all privacy protections and rights have been removed, that what was left didn’t apply to those shit-for-brains politicians as well. perhaps if they were put into the position of having their movements tracked 24/7, all their mail, both inbound and outbound and messages inspected, all conversations listened in on and all meetings recorded, they might re-think these bills. once privacy and freedoms have been taken away, they are one hell of a job to get back!

mikey4001 (profile) says:

“call your Senator and tell them that any attempt to weaken privacy protections is unacceptable”

If you think that anything I could ever say or do would carry any weight at all with my senator, you obviously haven’t met the sonofabitch. Unless I show up at his office with a suitcase full of unmarked bills and a Chinese tire factory stapled to my tits, he has no reason to care that I exist, and quite probably wishes that I didn’t.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

The feckless leading the clueless... over a cliff!

1. Use an encrypted VPN tunnel to an anonymizing service.
2. Always use https to access web sites, even through the tunnel.

Now, there is no way for your ISP to know anything about your traffic other than you have an encrypted stream to/from a remote network, and if the anonymizer service does their job right, each connection you make to a remote service will use a different IP address. Results? My business is ONLY my business!

I know that even encrypted traffic can be analyzed for indications of what type it is, but what specifically it is (what videos you are streaming for example) most likely cannot be determined.

So, what this bill and similar ones accomplish is only to allow eavesdropping on people who are mostly innocent shlubs…

Chilly8 says:

Re: The feckless leading the clueless... over a cliff!

Of course, the Trans Pacific Protocol might outlaw VPNs, you never now. The original leaked ACTA draft in 2008 specifically mandated that VPNs be banned or restricted, but that was removed from ACTA. I would be surprised if big business had a hand in that, since they depend on VPNs for remote access to their networks.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you care about your privacy, now (and all next week) would be a good time to call your Senator and tell them that any attempt to weaken privacy protections is unacceptable, and that they should get behind the proposals to strengthen privacy protections.

I hear suggestions like this all the time, and every time I hear them I think they are dumber than the last time I heard them. If you REALLY care about your privacy (and your freedom) stop wasting your time with calls and letters to people who could care less about you or your problems. Spend that time finding/researching/identifying non-democrat and non-republican politicians who are actually likely to do what the public wants, and start voting them into office to replace the career lackeys who only cater to the large corporations.

Because quite frankly, as long as the American people keep voting the McCains, the Feinsteins, the Hatchs, the Lamar Smiths, the Chris Dodds, the Pelosis of the world into office term after term after and then whining because you are getting the short end of the staff just makes people look stupid.

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