CISPA is Back & Here to Stay

December 21, 2015

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

CISPA OmnibusDid we call it or what?! Not like those horoscope readings in the paper that are deliberately vague so the reader can project whatever implications they wish onto them. I’m talking almost down to the word prophetic:

“The fact that CISPA was tabled in the Senate, doesn’t mean it’s dead on arrival. Chances are, it’s just dormant, much like the last time we thought it was ‘shot down’.

“Regardless of whether CISPA passes, unfortunately, the government agencies who want to pry deeper into private affairs will find a way, and they will find companies willing to sell out its users.” (Source: CISPA: Liberty Win? Or Tyranny Delay?)

April of 2013, nearly two and a half years ago, we refused to believe that this obscene legislation was defeated. Leviathan doesn’t let go of its bite that easily. And sure as rain falls from the sky, Paul Ryan passes his Omnibus bill with all the CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) bells and whistles on it.

These are not the “I told you so” moments I enjoy. GWP stands nothing to gain by being right about this. This is your run of the mill lose-lose political policy. This is a huge blow to an individual’s right to privacy. As we stated before in an even earlier article, CISPA’s real purpose is: “Corporate and government information is MORE important than YOUR information, and therefore we wrote this law that protects them in that very order of priority.”

They had an interim contingency plan in the event that CISPA didn’t pass, of course: Warrantless searches absolving internet and online service providers from any wrong-doing via the “2511 Letters” issued by the Department of Justice. Those aren’t going anywhere, passing of the Omnibus Bill notwithstanding. In fact it was expanded to cover other industries such as healthcare, energy, and finance industries as well.

If you were to look at your privacy rights as a house with 4 walls, locked windows, and a secured deadbolt door, this bill just turned that fortress into a gazebo: everywhere is a point of entry to violate that right.

Looking back just in this past year, it’s obvious how the road was being paved for it. First, they let allow portions of the Patriot Act to expire, giving civil libertarians a glimmer of hope and victory, then Obama suspends the debt ceiling until 2017, throwing us all under the Omnibus.

The Omnibus bill has incredible leverage since it details federal funding for various programs and departments. If it doesn’t pass, the government goes into remission – errr, I mean it stops functioning. So a “no” vote bankrupts the federal government, while a “yes” vote keeps it going and strikes down an integral area of privacy.

The $1.1 TRILLION bill was NOT debated and was rushed through like some impulse buy of gum at the checkout stand; only this pack of gum held in the balance the entire function of the United States Federal Government.

Those of you who thought the original CISPA was bad, might be interested to know that even the paltry restraints that were on that original bill are gone in this rendering. It’s not a safety bill. It is a surveillance bill, full stop.

The original concern: “CISA’s information-sharing channel, ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, could also provide a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.”

How it is now in the Omnibus Bill: “It creates the ability for the president to set up ‘portals’ for agencies like the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, so that companies hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of to the Department of Homeland Security. And it also changes when information shared for cybersecurity reasons can be used for law enforcement investigations. The earlier bill had only allowed that backchannel use of the data for law enforcement in cases of “imminent threats,” while the new bill requires just a ‘specific threat,’ potentially allowing the search of the data for any specific terms regardless of timeliness.”

(Source: Wired)

The Department of Homeland Security even warned that this kind of legislation is going to result in a deluge of “dubious” information, but they went through with it anyway. Nothing about this bill offers even the tiniest glimmer of value to the people in the way of security or safety. It will, however, put a strain on the online purveyors since they will likely need new staff for mass compliance. (Much like doctors’ offices now need billing and claims people to handle just their Medicare and Medicaid clientele.)

The last time a mass surveillance bill was pushed through with such haste and little discussion was ironically the Patriot Act. The very act that was allowed to expire, fertilized the soil for CISPA.

Again, the government is giving itself maximum latitude “just in case”. Between the vague verbiage, open ended guidelines, and unlimited access upfront, expect more frenzy and criminals… but no change in the threat levels or security levels.

It’s clear with the government burying passport controls in highway bills, surveillance policies into federal funding bills, and pairing student loan legislation with healthcare legislation that they have become cleverer in getting their way. If they can’t get their way by overtly putting it to you in a bill, they will get their way by hiding in a more pressing bill with greater leverage and urgency.

This is the administration that pounded its chest as having the MOST transparency two terms in a row. What you didn’t realize was that its intention was to make YOUR goings, information, and life more transparent to the government… not the government more transparent to you.

Corporate structures offer more than just limited liability. They offer an added layer of privacy protection. If this sort of behavior has you worried about what could be in store for you next, we need to talk: click here to schedule an appointment.

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