Time To Speak Up About CISPA: We Shouldn't Be Scared Into Giving Up Our Privacy

from the speak-out-now dept

A bunch of groups are teaming up this week to call for a week of action against CISPA just as Congress is gearing up, yet again, to push through this cybersecurity bill based on a lot of FUD, with little to back it up. To be clear, there are a lot of challenges around online (can we dump the stupid “cyber” prefix?) security out there, and it’s clear that there is plenty of malicious and government-sponsored hacking and attacks. But we need to put this all in perspective. First off, there is already tremendous incentive to combat these attacks, and there are existing methods to do so. Second, no one has given a reasonable response to explain how something like CISPA will do anything at all to help prevent such attacks in the future. Third, while these attacks may be economically damaging, there is little evidence of them creating real physical harm to date. That’s not to say it’s not possible in the future, but stories of airplanes falling from the sky are quite exaggerated. Fourth, and most importantly, no one has explained why we all need to sacrifice our own privacy for these vague and undefined benefits.

A bunch of groups are fighting this, and now is the time to take part. EFF and Fight for the Future have put together a simple page to help you take action. As they point out there are three key objectionable parts to CISPA:

  • Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users’ private information, including the content of communications, with the government.
  • Authorizing companies to disclose users’ data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.
  • Broad definitions that allow users’ sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes, including for “national security,” not just computer and network security.

None of these are even remotely necessary to allow for effectively combating online attacks, but all certainly would be quite handy in helping the government snoop on the activities of citizens (and non-citizens) without much oversight. Considering how often we’ve seen other laws passed in a flurry of FUD around other “threats” later turn out to be abused by government officials for the sake of snooping, rather than any legitimate reason, we should be very concerned about these efforts here.

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Comments on “Time To Speak Up About CISPA: We Shouldn't Be Scared Into Giving Up Our Privacy”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Agree, but you should name names:

“Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies [such as Google and Facebook] who share users’ private information, including the content of communications, with the government.”

How can you possibly worry about the point without being specific as to the SPYING corporations that it directly affects?

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
Where the fanboys troll the site with vulgar ad hom, and call anyone disagreeing “trolls”!

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

But what if they sell it to the government?

Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users’ private information, including the content of communications, with the government.

We know companies are collecting tons of info on private citizens. And we know that they use it themselves and provide it to other companies in a variety of ways. So what if the government becomes another client/customer, with cash in hand, rather than demanding the info?

Anonymous Coward says:

one other important point that is not mentioned with the 3 other main points is that regardless of where you live, what country you are in, what nationality you are, the USA wants to be able to get at your information etc, etc. if that isn’t a complete piss take, i dont know what is! what right has the USA got to look through anything that is to do with a French company or a Spanish person? yet again, the USA is trying this ‘i want to be in control of everything, everyone, everywhere, and so i am going to be!’ there is already protest pages in the EU about this. i think the USA needs to tread very carefully atm, given how, as usual, it is trying already to dominate up and coming talks on a trade agreement with the EU by saying who else can join and who else it wants to join, with no other discussion or consultation

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Nobody cares

I agree. You can’t point to government and privacy without addressing privacy in general. Companies are collecting all sorts of info on people. So trying to point a finger at government without also acknowledging how much personal info is being amassed anyway doesn’t really address the total issue.

I think private companies are trying to put the focus on government in order to take the focus away from them. And, like I said, if government was prepared to pay them for the info, I think these companies would sell it to government anyway. Look at the search possibilities Facebook is offering. And the big data people are already touting what they can discover about people. So with that info, you can start to predict who is going to do what and then monitor some people more closely based on what you think they might do.

You can’t have private companies saying, “Look at what we can tell you about individual consumers” and then try to tell people to distrust government over privacy issues.

special-interesting (profile) says:

It always drive me to silent thought on how my acquaintances and friends can feign ignorance about privacy issues. The most common comment when mentioning CISPA or ACTA (or the next emergency congressional attack on personal liberties) is, besides the glossed over eyes, ?It doesn’t involve me?, ?Who cares?? or ?I’m not a terrorist what dose it matter?? or something like that. (the head in the sand approach)

We are still butting up against near total unawareness. I think the greatest light bulb of awareness in the publics eye (that something was amiss) was when their web pages were interrupted for the ACTA protest. If the muster includes such powerful players then the campaign, for personal and family privacy, against CISPA (and other bill of the same ilk) might have a chance.

To me CISPA is just a continuation of the justifications wanted by current agencies to both continue business as usual and to post justify past likely illegal intrusions. If (dream) I was in charge anyone who mentioned that it would make their job easier they would be fired. Nobody said any job done right was easy.

If we want the presidents help then a plan must include some rationalization that allows protesting bureaucracy’s unnecessary escalating demands while preserving a successful legacy of the first black president in history. May be wrong but successful legacy seems to be the key words. I like the fact that this is a racial first but please don’t allow that to be a rubber-stamp of bureaucracy.

Congress is a tough nut to crack on this one. Special interest groups almost rule both the House and Senate. There are some good exceptions but unless they each know their constituents will not only vote them out but their party also…

And that leads us back to more of the publics support I mentioned above.

Does the C really stand for Cyber? Thats so stupid its hilarious. It’s not even included in my spell checker. Dose it mean anything at all? Have the names of any congressional bill actually meant what was written in the text? Including a meaningless term in the name is like not even caring whats in the bill.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

"The Internet is a surveillance state"

Opinion: The Internet is a surveillance state – CNN.com: “In today’s world, governments and corporations are working together to keep things that way. Governments are happy to use the data corporations collect — occasionally demanding that they collect more and save it longer — to spy on us. And corporations are happy to buy data from governments. Together the powerful spy on the powerless, and they’re not going to give up their positions of power, despite what the people want.”

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