Do you send emails? Are you on Facebook? New government bills seek to break your privacy.
Since late 2011 and early 2012, bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act have been proposed to Congress with good intentions. They seek to deter Internet crimes, such as identity theft, illegal file sharing and hacking of government websites.
Unfortunately, SOPA and CISPA have a catch. While protecting the interests of the Internet and the U.S. government, they severely undermine and violate our rights.
CISPA was voted down and later revised in 2012, but the bill was reintroduced Feb. 12 in the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. If it passes, the government will be able to access unlimited amounts of information from major companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to search for information that could be a “cyber threat.”
At face value, this sounds fine. But take a minute to think about that again.
The CISPA bill states that “(Private information may be shared) notwithstanding any other provision of the law.”
If the government has any reason to suspect that you have information that poses a “cyber threat,” anything you’ve ever posted or viewed on the Internet would be readily available for federal agencies to view, download and share. Better yet, the companies are granted full anonymity: Facebook wouldn’t need to inform you that they’ve shared your photos or conversations. No consent, no inquiry, no choice.
Companies wouldn’t need to pay a dime to share the information. It would be free of fees (and guilt) for Google to share your emails.
This means that if CISPA passes, the Internet will no longer be a frontier for our creation and peace of mind. Nothing will visibly change, but the government could or may already have sifted through your personal information.
In the bill’s defense, its purpose makes complete sense. The world (and Internet) needs to be a safer place. As one of the most powerful governing forces in the world, the U.S. needs to protect its intellectual assets.
CISPA is not the answer.
Government safety is important, sure. However, the rights of its people come first and foremost. That should never be a question.
Frankly, CISPA is a crude joke. It may sound petty to wave red flags over an Internet-based bill, but our rights are in jeopardy. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Katz v. U.S., the Fourth Amendment was noted to include immaterial intrusion or using technology to “search.”
Quit Facebook? Don’t use Google? I don’t think so, America.
Previously, I’ve said “things need to change” or “something needs to be done.” I’m here to tell you that something can be done about CISPA.
Follow the link at the top of this column to learn more about CISPA and how to contact Congress. Sign the petition and tell them directly: Our rights are not negotiable.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him at @MorganSukotto
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.