Amendments To Cyberstalking Bill Lack Teeth

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A couple weeks ago, we previewed a forthcoming Congressional rush job to mark up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) behind closed doors.

Described by opponents and privacy protection advocates as a “backdoor wiretap” measure that gives the Federal government even greater warrantless surveillance powers over private electronic communications, CISPA is one of a number of measures Congress is taking up during “cyber week,” a late-April push on several digital initiatives that all promise to expand Federal snooping powers.

Now comes word that some CISPA opponents may be appeased by a new amendment produced by the closed-door talks — one that would require companies to share “cyberthreat” data with the Department of Homeland Security, headed by Secretary Janet Napolitano, as a first step before the same information gets passed on to the military. The big change is the inclusion of the “civilian” DHS as a middleman agency that reviews the data, rather than allowing companies to communicate the same information directly to the military.

Don’t be fooled. Handing Big Sis secretly culled data so she can simply turn around and pass it along to Big Brother is nobody’s idea of a safeguard. Amendment or not, CISPA — and the way it’s being amended outside the view of the public — still stinks.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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