Monday, April 23, 2012

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger Under Fire for Bill Allowing Government Snooping of Internet Activity // STOP #CISPA

UPDATE: Today Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and seventeen other Democratic House members sent a letter to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger stating "CISPA Needs Privacy Safeguards." It is unfortunate that Rep. Ruppersberger and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett are supporting government  snooping on the Internet in Congress, because this year the State Legislature made Maryland the first state in the nation to protect your social networking data from employers.

Tell Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger & Rep. Roscoe Bartlett to STOP Government Internet Snooping:

RUPPERSBERGER SLAMMED ON TWITTER: Internet users are once again triggering backlash to proposed Congressional regulation of the world's most important communications platform. This time their target is Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's anti-privacy legislation CISPA (aka HR 3523) -- a bill which does not have the support of the White House. Constituents are condemning Rep. Ruppersberger's legislation on Twitter (see below), but he still has a chance to prove he supports Internet privacy.

CONTEXT: Last January, millions of Internet users took to Facebook, Twitter, email, phones and even the streets to protest Internet censorship legislation called SOPA & PIPA. Notably, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) was a sponsor of PIPA, but he became the first Democratic Senator to withdraw support. He smartly announced he would not support PIPA on Friday, January 13th, only days before the forces of the Internet staged a massive blackout on January 18, 2012.

REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER'S ATTACK ON INTERNET PRIVACY = CISPA: This week Internet users are now rallying to protect their online privacy, with a new legislative threat scheduled for a U.S. House vote later this week. The new culprit is called CISPA and it is being sponsored by none other than Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI).

Under the guise of "cybersecurity" (whatever that means), Rep. Ruppersberger drafted legislation that would grant immunity to social networking operators and website services like Facebook and Google for sharing volumes of data about ordinary user activity with law enforcement officials. At one point, the bill even included provisions to allow the government to monitor web activity just to help police intellectual property violations. As is so often the case, what is being sold as anti-terror legislation for our safety, also happens to include a vast expansion of government surveillance powers and vague language that could only aid in future expansive interpretations by the government and even corporations. TIME Magazine recently panned the legislation in an article titled 5 Reasons the CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Should Be Tossed. They flagged the following considerations:
  1. CISPA does away with important information-sharing barriers between the government, military and private sector.
  2. The restrictions on what can be snooped or how that information can be used are vague.
  3. If a company violates your privacy, you have to go to the moon to hold them liable.
  4. The bill’s definition of “cybersecurity purpose” is too broad and vague.
  5. There may be a better, wiser, narrower bill in the offing.
The TIME article highlights a few points of major criticism against CISPA:
TIME MAGAZINE: Next up: CISPA, a bill that would essentially nullify current privacy laws and set companies up to share data about users with the government without the need for court orders....

What’s more, the bill would require the Director of National Intelligence to both design procedures to facilitate information sharing between private and government sectors, as well as “encourage the sharing of such intelligence.”

Before I get into CISPA’s overt problems, it’s worth stating that I think we’re all — proponents and opponents of CISPA — in favor of intelligent, reasonable and appropriate measures when it comes to grappling with cybersecurity....

CISPA does away with important information-sharing barriers between the government, military and private sector. According to the Center for Democracy & Technology, CISPA threatens privacy because it “has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies and it supersedes all other privacy laws,” “is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications” and “is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military....”

CISPA’s vaguely defined usage restrictions mean your information could be used for purposes other than or only indirectly related to cybersecurity. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says “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.”

REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT SUPPOPTS CISPA SNOOPING: Notably, none of Rep. Ruppersberger's Democratic colleagues in the Maryland U.S. House delegation have signed on to CISPA (ie: Rep. Van Hollen, Edwards, Sarbanes, Cummings, etc) -- but the bill has the support of GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Notably, Mr. Bartlett currently has had problems consolidating Tea Party and GOP party base support. As CISPA's privacy violations become more high-profile, they could become a problem for Mr. Bartlett. Rep. Ron Paul, who is popular among GOP activists, for example, recently spoke out against CISPA in an op-ed. The Ron Paul oriented blog Daily Paul even issued an alert stating:
DAILY PAUL: This bill already has over 100 Congressional co-sponsors, and is bolting through Congress! This is very upsetting! I just called my PA Congressman (Rep. Thomas Marino) and asked if he was a co-sponsor. They said, yes. I said, "Well you tell him I said not to support this bill, and if he does the next time his name comes around, HE IS OUT!"

THIS BILL WILL GIVE THEM CONTROL OF THE INTERNET!!!!! I am told it is worse than SOPA, the last bill they tried to control the internet with. Everyone yelled and SOPA was taken off the floor.


INVENTOR OF THE WEB CALLS CISPA THREAT TO RIGHTS: Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely credited for creating the World Wide Web recently spoke out against CISPA. Talking Points Memo noted his comments:
TIM BERNERS-LEE: "[It] is threatening the rights of people in America, and effectively rights everywhere, because what happens in America tends to affect people all over the world. Even though the Sopa and Pipa acts were stopped by huge public outcry, it’s staggering how quickly the US government has come back with a new, different, threat to the rights of its citizens."
Tim Berners-Lee joins a large coalition of open information, civil liberties, and good government advocates in opposing CISPA. The bill faces opposition from groups like my employer Demand Progress and the ACLU.


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