No amount of online spying is too much, said the criminal elected class in the House of Representatives, as it passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and (non)Protection Act (CISPA) yesterday over hollow veto threats by the Administration of President Barack Obama.
The bill will give the government access to online data — including financial data — from private computer networks. A proposal that would have prohibited the military from collecting data directly from industry was blocked from floor debates by Republicans. A compromise measure was passed that ensures companies must first go through the Department of Homeland Security before turning information over the military.
Privacy groups object to the bill because they said it would give the National Security Agency “a front-row seat in analyzing data from private computer networks.” The Associated Press reports that the bill doesn’t address NSA specifically, but “it’s presumed that the military intelligence agency would have a central role in the data-sharing because of its technical expertise in tracking foreign-based hackers.”
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who once lamented that the Internet had been created and longed to return to the days of pencil and paper, will take the lead in pushing CISPA through the Senate.
The proposal that puts DHS in charge of disseminating the information between corporations and the military was supposed to be comforting. But considering the DHS’s record regarding electronic privacy, it’s no comfort at all. Recall that for years DHS claimed the naked body scans taken by backscatter radiation emitters at airports were not stored, and the machines were not capable of storing images. Finally, after lawsuits filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center made their way through the courts, it was revealed that DHS did indeed store the images and that Transportation Security Administration agents used them for all sorts of nefarious purposes.
The Administration’s veto threats ring hollow because it has yet to find a liberty-reducing law it could oppose (see the National Defense Authorization Act). But we should be thankful, because our safety is of foremost concern among the criminal elected class.