President Barack Obama has announced fresh sanctions against Iran, Syria and those who help them use technology to perpetrate human rights abuses.
The executive order creates sanctions against the government of Syria and Iran “and those who abet them, for using technologies to monitor, target and track its citizens for violence”.
“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” said President Obama.
And yet we have CISPA.
What about the citizens of the US? Will we be taking sanctions against the companies and organizations that track and monitor us?
Against those that provide the tools and technologies to do so?
More to the point: Will the US government sanction itself?
The open internet group EFF has warned that CISPA’s broad wording could class many routine internet activities, such as using encryption on emails or enabling anonymity using a service called TOR, as potential threats.
“Any existing legal protections of user privacy will be usurped by CISPA,” the EFF claims. “The bill clearly states that the information may be shared ‘notwithstanding any other provision of law.’”
Under CISPA, there’s nothing preventing private companies from monitoring networks and network traffic, and offering to share that information with the government. Who, in turn, can then use that information in any way deemed necessary to the “national security” of the US.
Does the government really need the ability to build a national database of every site you visit? Every tweet and SMS and email you send and receive, and to whom? Every credit card transaction?
To target whistle-blowers and those who would shine a light on the shadowy workings of business and government?
Apparently, the answer is yes.
President Obama has expressed outrage over the way governments and private companies are using the internet to track and run roughshod over foreign nationals, but what about here in the US?
The White House today expressed concerns about a controversial cybersecurity bill that would authorize Internet companies to divulge confidential customer records and communications.
Note that it’s the “White House”, not the President. And that they’re “concerned”.
I’m glad they’re “concerned”, because we keep getting hit with legislation like CISPA, and SOPA, and PIPA, and ACTA, and more.
Hit with a seemingly neverending stream of legislation that we’ve only managed to halt because of major and unprecedented opposition from citizens, online activists, and from internet-based organizations like the EFF.
Hit with legislation designed to strip us of our rights, and of our privacy.
If President Obama really wants credit in this situation, why not be perfectly clear on the subject, and do so closer to home?
As in stating, “I will veto any and all legislation that attempts to monitor or repress the rights and privacy of US citizens.”
Why not make it plain that the rights of the citizens of the United States of America are just as important as those of Iran and Syria?
Why not lead by example?
Is it because of this?
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency.
A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications.
Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, and bookstore purchases.
Suddenly, the extensive immunity clauses in CISPA become clear.
In 2008, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act, which granted telecoms that had been participating in illegal wireless activity and monitoring immunity from prosecution and lawsuits.
Similarly, CISPA exists to legally allow any business or corporation to share private information with the government.
CISPA exists to bypass existing laws and regulations regarding privacy.
CISPA exists to block disclosure of such under the FOIA.
CISPA exists to provide a “get out of jail” immunity card to companies that voluntarily provide the government with data.
CISPA exists to give the NSA a legal mandate and access to any and all information collected, both foreign and domestic.
The $2 billion Utah Data Center center should be up and running in September 2013.
And should CISPA pass, it will be completely legal.
Next in the series: Why Facebook and Google and Microsoft support CISPA.
- CISPA Is NOT About Copyright; It’s About Free Speech, Privacy, And Personal Freedom
- CNN: Obama Targets Technology In Human Rights Abuses
- Wired: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center
- CISPA Could Allow The Government To Legally Monitor Private Networks
- CISPA Amended : Still Needs Work
- House Intelligence Committee Starts Its Pro-CISPA Twitter Campaign
- CISPA Is The New SOPA: Help Kill It