On Tuesday, the Texas House added three amendments to the CISPA-like bill flying through the Legislature. Clearly, all the attention now directed at this terrible bill is spurring action by state lawmakers. But the amendments completely fail to address the bill’s serious privacy violations and some make the bill even worse.
This amendment changes the target of government seizures from “an electronic communications service” to a “remote computing service”. All this does is make it more clear that websites not based in Texas are going to be forced to comply with this bill.
The amendment also appears to remove the limit on how far back the state could seize personal records. The bill previously only applied to electronic communication that was less than 180 days old (so it prevented really old fishing expeditions). Under this version of the bill, it appears the government could seize years - or even the totality - of a person’s online communication. This is a terrible change.
The amendment also made an important change by removing the ability of a “Designated law enforcement office or agency” to collect the data, leaving it to authorized peace officers. But this doesn’t improve the bill very much - authorized peace officers are state agents who also should not be empowered with these broad abilities to seize private communications. It removes the ability for some political hack in a specific office or agency to file a request for electronic information - which is a good thing - but doesn’t address the glaring privacy violations in this bill.
New tax records reveal that the RIAA has made heavy employee cuts after revenue dropped to a new low. Over the past two years the major record labels have cut back their membership dues from $33.6 to $23.6 million. RIAA staff plunged from 107 to 60 workers in the same period. The IRS filing further shows that the music industry group paid $250,000 to the six strikes anti-piracy system.
The Texas CISPA bill, approved unanimously by the House last week, may be passed by the Legislature within 24 hours. It has been scheduled for a vote on Monday.
The bill, now slightly altered SB 1052 in the Senate, does the following:
- Requires any Internet provider that serves Texans to hand over private communication and files.
- Sets no standard for warrants for such seizures, enabling arbitrary violations of Texans’ privacy.
- Forces Internet providers to respond within 15-30 days (and sometimes 4-30), giving them almost no time to protect information not targeted.
- Makes it a crime for an officer, director or owner of a company to not comply with the request within the 15-30 day window.
- Opens the door to politically-motivated seizures of online communication.
Another day, another House Intelligence Committee session held in secret, under the rather convenient excuse that “classified information” might be revealed.
As was the case last year when members of the committee amended the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) the first time around — the bill, dubbed a “privacy killer” by online activists and privacy groups, will once again be amended in a veil of secrecy.
According to the committee’s spokesperson, Susan Phalen, (via The Hill), these secret hearings are not uncommon and “sometimes they’ll need to bounce into classified information and go closed for a period of time to talk.”
She said that in order to keep the flow of the mark-up — where rewrites to proposed legislation are made — the committee cannot suddenly stop, order every person and member of the media out of the chamber, only to be brought back in later once the discussions are back on unclassified territory.
One of the biggest names on the Internet has rescinded their support of a controversial computer bill. Social media giant Facebook says they are no longer favoring the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA.
From Silicon Valley to Washington, DC, all eyes were on CISPA last year when Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Sen. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Calif.) touted the bill across the United States as a much-needed solution to the sky-rocketing number of cyberattacks waged at American computer networks. CISPA, said its supporters, would prevent those hazardous hacks from ravaging the country’s cybergrid by asking private sector Internet businesses to share threat information with the US government.
The House cybersecurity bill that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) and the military to collect your private internet records is scheduled for an encore appearance on Wednesday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) will reintroduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which news reports say will be the same bill that passed the House of Representatives last year.
That’s right, the same bill that allows companies to turn over your sensitive internet records directly to the NSA and the Department of Defense without requiring them to make even a reasonable effort to protect your privacy. The same bill that lets the government use the information it collects for cybersecurity purposes “to protect the national security of the United States”—a concept that is, of course, undefined and incredibly expansive. Here we are, ten months later, with a much-deserved veto threat from the administration, a smarter Senate alternative, and an Executive Order that will address part of the information-sharing issue—yet the House starts with the same old privacy-busting bill as before.
Since I called the Librarian of Congress’s decision against unlocking cell phones “the most ridiculous law of 2013,” legal experts, techies, and other readers have written to tell me they, too, consider the restriction an outrageous violation of property rights. In particular, several people asked, “No one would really get into trouble for this. Right?”
Maybe not. But as I said, the real problem is not the danger that average people would get a $500,000 fine and 5 years in jail. The problem is that 95% of the accused currently accept a plea deal and would accept almost anything to avoid risking such a stark penalty and that this stark penalty can be used by companies to scare average consumers from exercising their own property rights. For that reason, this restriction violates one of our most basic and fundamental of freedoms and represents an Orwellian invasion of our personal liberty.
The legal instrument that makes this activity illegal is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which contains a broad, vague section making it illegal to circumvent digital protection technology. The Librarian of Congress decided that the protection available to consumers through an exception as no longer necessary, therefore, presumably making this now illegal. Cellphone companies can now intimidate ordinary people who are forced to wonder who exactly owns the phone that they’ve legally purchased.