Just when us mindless lovers of funny talking dog memes on Facebook; interested pinterests; viewers of naked celebs holding up their cell phones; and whatever the heck is left on the internet thought our idle privacy was being compromised with such invasive bills as SOPA and PIPA, Congress gave us a whole new piece of online freedom killing tyranny in the form of CISPA–and it’s not a pharmaceutical used to treat depression either.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives delivered a monstrous blow to the individual online liberty when they gave big business and big government yet another giveaway, operating under the guise of fighting those darn sneaky Chinese and Russians.
Whenever it comes to actually creating workable economic programs and policies that benefit the people for whom they represent, bi-partisanship is a nasty and ugly word. However, when it comes to totally circumventing the constitution and individual liberty, Congress suddenly becomes a Siamese twin of enthusiastic bi-partisanship. With 206 Republicans voting in favor of CISPA and 28 opposed, and 42 Democrats voting in favor of it and 140 opposed, a very troublesome pattern seems to happening with regards to both parties decimating privacy and civil liberties. Despite the fact that President Obama has said that he would veto this CISPA should it arrive on his desk, his prior missteps with respects to the atrocious NDAA bill as well as his continuation of Bush’s very controversial national security polices, including allowing the assassination of US citizens , doesn’t exactly shower confidence into the minds of civil libertarians and millions of internet users in America.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Under CISPA, any company can “use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property” of the company. This phrase is being interpreted to mean monitoring your communications—including the contents of email or private messages on Facebook.
Right now, well-established laws, like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prevent companies from routinely monitoring your private communications. Communications service providers may only engage in reasonable monitoring that balances the providers’ needs to protect their rights and property with their subscribers’ right to privacy in their communications. And these laws expressly allow lawsuits against companies that go too far. CISPA destroys these protections by declaring that any provision in CISPA is effective “notwithstanding any other law” and by creating a broad immunity for companies against both civil and criminal liability.
And to depress or make indignant folks even more indignant, here is a sampling of some rather telling and startling commentary from Business Insider on how CISPA is way uglier and scarier than anything ever imagined in the CIA Suites of former dark overlord, Dick Cheney.
- Online banking and trading: dead as we know it. Who is going to use online banking services, knowing that anyone from a local police department snoop, to a federal spy agency, to even random private companies might be watching your every trade, and your purchase history, without a warrant or court involvement of ANY kind.
- The ‘adult entertainment’ industry: dead as we know it. Big Brother is watching you. If CISPA becomes law, which it appears on the fast-track to do, who will watch knowing that others are watching you.
- Online health databases and discussion forums such as WebMD: dead as we know it. Who will ask intimate health questions, knowing that your identity is not even semi-anonymous any more?
- Online suicide helplines, depression forums, political discussion communities: dead as we know it. Same reason as above.
- Legitimate criticism of the government: dead as we know it, especially if you are a “job seeker” who doesn’t want any blemishes on your record to get in the way of surviving.
- Online communities like Reddit: dead as we know it. So much for the semi-anonymous, crowdsourced hivemind brilliance of multi-million user social communities.
- Facebook: dead as we know it (although they don’t seem to care). Who will use the service, knowing that countless other companies could be watching and logging every profile and photo you view, every message you send or receive, and every connection you’ve ever made… (Source: Business Insider)
The Senate, regardless of political party, is largely more corporate-friendly than the House and wags it tail at K-Street like a puppy before chow time. But should the truly believe Obama’s veto threat, they may just decide to let the bill die. After all, the special interests that wrote this bill, including AT& T, IBM, and even Facebook, will eventually just buy another bill and try this once again, especially if corporate rubber stamper-in-chief, Mitt Romney, successfully buys the White House. It’s so great that Corporations replaced people as the new people!
Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, produces a chapter of Laughing Liberally, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle Media. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, Youtube, and like NJ Laughing Liberally Lab. Seriously, follow him or he’ll send you a photo of Rush Limbaugh bending over in a thong.