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1984 Could Be Here Now

H.R. 624, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA) is currently being debated by the House of Representatives and focuses on the very real issues of cyber threats and the need for greater cyber security.  The legislation amends and updates the National Security Act of 1947, which doesn’t contain provisions regarding cyber crime.  While this law absolutely needs to be updated, this legislation is the latest example of Congress debating technology issues, while not understanding the full implications of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

CISPA would have technology companies, like video game systems, internet service providers (ISPs) and more share your use of technology with the Government under the guise of cyber security.  It’s George Orwell’s classic book 1984 right here, right now.

Here are the problems with the legislation as it stands:

  • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, searches and even what games you play.

  • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients who can receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.

  • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.

  • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.

  • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.

  • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

This is the government snooping into your use of the internet and technology with the help of corporations without the usual judicial process and the protections we’re guaranteed by the US Constitution.  We can’t see any reason the Government needs to know how much Mass Effect you play, the maps you enjoy in Call of Duty or how many people are in your World of Warcraft Guild... Can you?