Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote

from the this-is-crazy dept

Update: Several people have asserted that Quayle's amendment actually made CISPA better, not worse. I've now posted my thoughts on that.

Up until this afternoon, the final vote on CISPA was supposed to be tomorrow. Then, abruptly, it was moved up today—and the House voted in favor of its passage with a vote of 248-168. But that's not even the worst part.

The vote followed the debate on amendments, several of which were passed. Among them was an absolutely terrible change (pdf and embedded below—scroll to amendment #6) to the definition of what the government can do with shared information, put forth by Rep. Quayle. Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the government's power, even though it in fact expands it by adding more items to the list of acceptable purposes for which shared information can be used. Even more astonishingly, it passed with a near-unanimous vote. The CISPA that was just approved by the House is much worse than the CISPA being discussed as recently as this morning.

Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for "cybersecurity" or "national security" purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.

Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a "cybersecurity crime". Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government's power.

Somehow, incredibly, this was described as limiting CISPA, but it accomplishes the exact opposite. This is very, very bad.

There were some good amendments adopted too—clarifying some definitions, including the fact that merely violating a TOS does not constitute unauthorized network access—but frankly none of them matter in the light of this change. CISPA is now a completely unsupportable bill that rewrites (and effectively eliminates) all privacy laws for any situation that involves a computer. Far from the defense against malevolent foreign entities that the bill was described as by its authors, it is now an explicit attack on the freedoms of every American.

Filed Under: cispa, congress, cybersecurity


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  1. identicon
    Pay attention, 26 Apr 2012 @ 6:56pm

    Can everyone stop with the "oh I'm going to vote X out of office, he'll be sorry!"
    a) The powers that be (and their software) count the votes, not you.
    b) More importantly:

    1) Company A writes law that benefits them.
    2) Company A pays congresscritter to vote for law.
    3) You write congresscritter a letter opposing the law.
    4) Congresscritters' staff member gives him a summary: "A bunch of people sent letters opposing this law." Congresscritter shrugs, as this is not relevant to him.
    5) Congresscritter votes the way company A told him to.
    6) Congresscritter is now rich and happy. His family is going to have a bigger house. His children will go to fancy colleges.
    7) You cast your vote against the congresscritter next time you're asked.
    7a) Computer ignores your vote?
    7b) Computer counts your vote?
    Doesn't matter, because:
    8) Congresscritter now gets a cushy job at Company A. He is further secured in the top 1% of the population.

    Explain to me why congresscritter will give a damn about your letter, phone call or vote?

    People need to learn to do a lot more than vote. Recognize when a system is deliberately oppressing you. Don't be a sucker by following the rules set up by the same oppressor.

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