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.
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.
Just a month ago we raised more than a proverbial eyebrow when we noted the creation of the NSA’s Utah Data Center (codename Stellar Wind) and William Binney’s formidable statement that "we are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state". Democracy Now has the former National Security Agency technical director whistleblower’s first TV interview in which he discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national TV about NSA surveillance. Starting with his pre-9-11 identification of the world-wide-web as a voluminous problem since the NSA was ‘falling behind the rate-of-change’, his success in creating a system (codenamed Thin-Thread) for ‘grabbing’ all the data and the critical ‘lawful’ anonymization of that data (according to mandate at the time) which as soon as 9-11 occurred went out of the window as all domestic and foreign communications was now stored (starting with AT&T’s forking over their data). This direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country was why Binney decided he could not stay (leaving one month after 9-11) along with the violation of almost every privacy and intelligence act as near-bottomless databases store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.
There was a time when Americans still cared about matters such as personal privacy. Luckily, they now have iGadgets to keep them distracted as they hand over their last pieces of individuality to the Tzar of conformity.
by John Perry Barlow <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.
You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different………………
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) hasn’t received a whole lot of media attention yet, but it continues to pick up supportfrom legislators.
The bill is touted as being much worse than SOPA when it comes to privacy invasions.
Just as SOPA put an emphasis on piracy, CISPA also appears to include the infringement of intellectual property as a security threat warranting access to user data. The definition of “theft or misappropriation of private or government information” is given four times throughout the bill H.R. 3523.
Under CISPA, Internet providers and other companies could be expected to hand user data over to government agencies and even other companies upon request.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), it “would let companies spy on users and share private information with the federal government and other companies with near-total immunity from civil and criminal liability. It effectively creates a ‘cybersecurity’ exemption to all existing laws.”
The EFF is concerned that, due to the vague language used in the bill, “a company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or AT&T could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop cybersecurity threats.”