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SOPA redux: CISPA would eliminate internet privacy

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If some in Congress have their way, there would be no online privacy. Private companies and the federal government would be able to view and share your information without a warrant or your permission.

After the mass public opposition to the failed SOPA & PIPA bills in January, proponents are trying to sneak this similar, Chinese-style eavesdropping law through to replace them.

H.R. 3523, known as CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), is described as an information sharing bill by sponsors designed "for cybersecurity purposes."

The bill’s sponsors, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) among others say this legislation is necessary and that they considered privacy concerns.

Rep. Rogers also sponsored H.R. 67 regarding the USA PATRIOT Act as well as H.R. 754, the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2011. He has also called for the death penalty for Army Private Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks.

Among the bill’s sponsors are several representatives from the Georgia delegation including Paul Broun (GA-10), Phil Gingrey (GA-11), Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3) and Rob Woodall (GA-7).

Supporters, unlike with SOPA & PIPA, include cyber giants like facebook and Google along with 27 other companies.

Opponents of the legislation say this bill is a threat to everyone’s privacy whether or not they are involved in a crime or not. This is not just workplace monitoring of their networks but all traffic including what individuals view and share on their home computers and tablets.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explained in a statement, “Its broad definitions allow private companies to monitor network traffic and stored data… and transfer such private data to the government or others with virtually no oversight or legal accountability.” This includes private email and online shopping.

The bill includes a provision to allow lawsuits against the federal government if data privacy rules are violated however, due to the secrecy of surveillance measures in the bill, the two-year statute of limitations would expire before most discovered any violations.

Beyond that, the bill exempts all data from the Freedom of Information Act making it unlikely anyone could successfully sue the government.

The EFF summarizes by saying, “In short, surveillance would be outsourced to private companies that are not governed by the Fourth Amendment.”

Ron Paul’s statement says, “Proponents of CISPA may be well-intentioned, but they unquestionably are leading us toward a national security state rather than a free constitutional republic.”

He goes on to say this “represents an alarming form of corporatism” while others say it is a direct assault on the Fourth Amendment. Many fear this is another step toward fascism in America.

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