Let Your Senator Know Right Now That You Are Watching If They'll Vote To Protect Privacy

from the speak-up dept

On Friday, we mentioned that this week is the week in which the Senate will wrangle over the new Cybersecurity bill. The current bill has some privacy safeguards, but not nearly enough. Senators Al Franken and Rand Paul have put together an amendment to strengthen the privacy safeguards even more -- and over the weekend, Senator Chuck Schumer agreed to co-sponsor the Franken/Paul amendment after talking to various folks in the tech industry and the civil liberties community. That adds more weight to the amendment. Unfortunately, Senators John McCain and Kay Bailey Huchison and a few others, who have been carrying water for the NSA throughout this fight, are looking to move the bill very far in the other direction, wiping out tons of privacy protections. It's really shameful.

Either way, this is the week to let your Senator know how you feel about all of this (and if you're a constituent of McCain or Huchison, please ask why they're so against protecting the privacy of the American public). The American Library Association has kindly set up a simple one-click tool to call your Senator and let them know how you feel.

The EFF has a page with some more info as well, noting that it's basically too late to email your Senators, so please call. If you want some more info, check out Fred Wilson's analysis of the situation, which matches almost exactly with mine. We still have not been given a compelling reason why any such legislation is needed. We keep hearing scare stories about mushroom clouds and planes falling from the sky if information can't be shared. But... what no one has done yet is explain which existing regulations block the necessary sharing of information. If they did that, we could look at fixing those laws. Instead, we're just told scare stories and given a massive 211-page bill that wipes out all sorts of previous laws, and adds all sorts of other things to the law. Given the length of the bill, it's quite likely there are some awful "easter eggs" in there that we'll only discover years down the road.

That said, if the bill is going to pass, it would be much better if it had very strong privacy protections in it, and the Franken/Paul amendment go a long way towards putting such protections in. The McCain/Huchison proposal do the opposite, and basically seek to take away privacy protections, while giving the NSA much more ability to access your data. Don't let the Senate trample your privacy rights. Go ahead and use the ALA's tool to contact your Senator today.

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  1. icon
    artp (profile), 30 Jul 2012 @ 10:14am

    They have the process backwards

    Up until now, the process was that some industry needed regulation because it was causing potential and present harm to the public. The government would tell the industry that they needed to get their act together. Then they would tell them again. Then they would step in and regulate that industry because obviously they are incapable of doing it themselves. An excellent example is the pharmaceutical industry, whose misbehavior (past and present) caused the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Don't let that get in the way of their patents, though. We would all die of bubonic plague if it weren't for them.

    Using this process, we have things like the ASME Boiler Code, the standard Building Code, the National Electrical Code, the National Fire Protection Association, the American Water Society, Instrument Society of America and many others. There is also the NIST - National Institute of Standards and Technology - to help guide the process along, and to provide parallel documentation of some standards. NIST is a government agency.

    In this case, we have the government regulating the public because the industry can't get its act together. Someone needs to go back to Civics 101 and figure out how government (of, by and for the people) is supposed to work. I think they have their wires crossed somewhere where the sun don't shine!

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