CISPA Goes to The Floor for a Vote, Privacy Amendments Blocked
By Kurt Opsahl and Rainey Reitman and Mark Jaycox / eff.org
Apr 17, 2013

Yesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.

In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. 

The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday. This means there’s little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:

Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative

Here are some of the takeaways from the hearing.

Rep. Rogers Dismisses CISPA Opponents as Teenage Basement Tweeters

After a heated exchange about the overly broad legal immunity, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) noted the widespread opposition to CISPA by Internet users. In response, Rep. Rogers characterized opponents to CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. See the video here.

CISPA is still riddled with problems and must be stopped.

Of course, many people oppose CISPA -- several thousand of whom tweeted at Rogers after his remark.

Internet companies like Mozilla, Reddit, NameCheap, Gandi.net, and other have also come out strong against the bill. And over 70 cybersecurity experts and academics sent a joint letter opposing CISPA last year, expressing their firm opposition to the dangers of Roger’s approach to computer security:

We have devoted our careers to building security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes. We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong computer and network security does not require Internet users to sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties.

Earlier this week, 34 civil liberties groups sent a letter opposing CISPA in its current form.

And the newest addition to CISPA opposition? The White House, which issued a veto threat (PDF) yesterday.

Rep. Rogers Makes The Case For Why Representatives Should Vote No

Rep. Rogers is adamant that no sensitive personal information or email content will be collected under the bill and then sent to the federal government. Under questioning from Rep. Polis, Rogers said "Again, zeroes and ones, hundreds of millions of times a second, in patterns. It has nothing to do with content. Nothing."

First of all, of course it's zeros and ones. That's how information is passed in the digital environment--whether it is content or not. If Rogers is going to propose fundamentally changing privacy on the Internet, he ought to know that the contents of email are transferred with zeros and ones in patterns.

Second, if Rogers really meant this, there is an easy solution. Exclude the content of communications from the bill. Voila! Companies would not be able to transfer the content of anyone’s email under the bill, whether in the form of zeros and ones, or by carrier pigeon

Reducing Confidence in the Internet

Rep. Polis spoke candidly during the hearing about some of the detrimental effects CISPA could have on Internet users’ trust in online services:

This directly hurts the confidence of Internet users. Internet users - if this were to become law - would be much more hesitant to provide their personal information -even if assured under the terms of use that it will be kept personal because the company would be completely indemnified if they 'voluntarily' gave it to the United States government.

Rep. Rogers was not convinced, asserting this would not be a problem. He’s wrong. CISPA gives legal immunity to companies who share your information under the bill, with no exception for privacy policies or user agreements that promise to protect your privacy.  Even worse, core privacy laws like the Privacy Act, Cable Communications Policy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act will be decimated by CISPA, robbed of their power to protect you when it comes to this so-called cybersecurity sharing.

One amendment that could have helped to address this concern was a proposal by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) which would have made clear that a company can still make a legally-enforceable commitment to users via a contract (such as terms of use) that it will not share personally identifiable information with the federal government.

However, this amendment was not allowed to proceed to the floor for a vote.

Privacy Amendments Aren't Allowed to Proceed For A Full House Vote

The hearing ended with the decision on which amendments would be allowed for consideration during the floor vote.  In all, 42 amendments were submitted to CISPA - the majority of which dealt with privacy and civil liberties problems with the bill. Only 12 were allowed to go to the floor for a full vote.

Among the amendments that will not move forward are forward-thinking proposals by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), both of whom suggested amendments that would address some of the core privacy concerns in CISPA. The first (PDF), championed by Rep. Schakowsky, would requires that the first point of sharing information with the federal government must be with a civilian agency, so that U.S. military or defense agencies won’t directly collect or receive cyber information on American citizens.

Another amendment (PDF) promoted by Rep Schiff, requires companies sharing information with the government or other private entities under the bill make “reasonable efforts” to remove personally identifiable information of individuals unrelated to the cyber threat.

At first the chairmen didn’t even allow a vote on whether or not these amendments could be presented to the full house for a vote. A vote on the amendments was held by the committee only after Democrats raised the issue.

Unfortunately, both amendments were ruled out of order - along with many others that would have addressed civil liberties issues.  This means that fixing the bill through floor amendments --which was always unlikely--is now clearly impossible. EFF is urging Representatives to oppose the bill in the upcoming vote.

Say No To CISPA

CISPA will likely be up for a vote in the next 24 hours. CISPA is still riddled with problems and must be stopped. Tell your Congressmen now to say no to CISPA.

Kurt Opsahl

Kurt Opsahl is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation focusing on civil liberties, free speech and privacy law.

 

 

Rainey Reitman

Rainey Reitman leads the activism team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Mark Jaycox

Mark Jaycox is a Policy Analyst and Legislative Assistant for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His issues include user privacy, civil liberties, EULAs, and current legislation or policy rising out of Washington, DC

 

3.7 ·
2
Trending Today
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 11,062 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 3,613 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 2,743 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,023 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 1,689 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
What Is a Gift Economy? - Alex Gendler
4 min · 1,488 views today · What if, this holiday season, instead of saying "thank you" to your aunt for her gift of a knitted sweater, the polite response expected from you was to show up at her house in...
Why I Think This World Should End
4 min · 1,362 views today · Sorry if this offends you. - Prince Ea
Union Co-Operatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them
Simon Taylor · 1,179 views today · Neoliberal policies contribute to alienation, disempowerment and non-unionised jobs, but a new model for unions could break the vicious circle, argues Simon Taylor.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 910 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Prophecy Delivered! Martin Luther King Jr. and the Death of Democracy
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou · 813 views today · “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Democracy is dead. It...
The Myth of Romantic Love May Be Ruining Your Health
Susanne Vosmer · 716 views today · Romantic love in Western societies is often portrayed in a stereotypical way: two yearning halves, who search for each other to find their complete, original state. Few find...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 712 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 651 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 373 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 365 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 349 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 344 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 332 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 331 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 302 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
CISPA Goes to The Floor for a Vote, Privacy Amendments Blocked