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
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 26 Apr 2012 @ 5:25pm

    Governmental access

    Do not fear my friends. The US government will soon install a back door into all electronic devices for your protection. And to reduce the overhead from private companies to hand over the data. Reducing taxes and increasing production.

    Plan of action:

    1) All cell phones will transmit all communications, text messages, location data, and randomly send pictures and video to ensure you are safe from terrorist.

    2) All computers will automatically route information to government systems first. This ensures that malware is not on your system. Just like EA did with Battlefield 3

    3) Any device with a camera or audio will transmit data to the government without the user having to give consent or permission. This reduces the time individuals need to read stuff.

    4) The government is also authorized to add/remove files from any of your electronic devices at will. Doing this while you sleep ensures that your valuable time will not be wasted.

    * We promise to protect you from all the evils that you are not aware of. And will try really hard to protect everything about your personal life. And will not use this information to deny you medical coverage, insurance, or career employment. We will also try hard not to use this information for blackmail. We have submitted request to everyone on the planet to not hack our almost strong security system (70% of the time it works all the time) and gain complete access to everything about you and the millions of others in this country. We may use this information to assist in fabricating evidence to ensure the DJAZ.com, TVShack and MegaUpload individuals go to prison for ever and ever though they did nothing wrong. We also humbly request that foreign nations do not bring democracy to the USA as the USA had with other countries such as Iraq, and Afghanistan. Our spying on everything you do is much more high tech, so it cannot be wrong.

    Capt ICE Enforcer

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