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CISPA is Back; All Your Data Are Belong to Us

February 14, 2013 - by Donny Shaw

Barely a year after the defeat of SOPA, Congress is back to testing the waters for legislation that many internet users believe to be in violation of their fundamental rights to privacy and free expression. CISPA, a bill that would make it easier for corporations and the government to share internet users' personal data, was officially re-introduced  in the House on Wednesday. It’s already being rushed forward in the legislative process. The House Intelligence Committee is holding a full hearing on the bill today at 10 am. They will hear from four witnesses -- all from the business sector and all supporters of CISPA. No experts with concerns about privacy issues were invited to address the committee.

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With cybersecurity legislation stalled in Congress, the Obama Administration is moving forward with an executive order to bypass Congress and give force of law to some of the stalled bill’s provisions. According to Jason Miller at Federal News Radio, one of the few reporters who has seen a copy of the executive order, the Administration’s proposal closely mirrors the Lieberman-Collins “Cybersecurity Act of 2012, including sections designed to encourage information sharing between web companies and the government, closely related to the provisions of the House-passed CISPA bill.

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While the latest version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is better on privacy than CISPA, its House counterpart, it still gives corporations and the federal government broad new powers to monitor internet users, block access to websites and services, and share personal user information without due process. Unless these provisions are removed, the Participatory Politics Foundation (makers of OpenCongress) stand with EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press and other tech-rights groups in opposing the bill.

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The Senate voted 84-11 on Thursday to begin debate of the latest version of the Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity legislation. The version of the bill they’ll be debating, S.3414, addresses many of the privacy concerns in the original, but it still poses some problems for civil liberties. Here are a few things to watch as the debate progresses.

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"Early June" is over and the Senate never did vote on cybersecurity legislation as they were expected to. But that doesn't mean their bill, and the internet privacy obliterating provisions in it, are dead. According to new reports, the supporters of the leading cybersecurity bill in the Senate are putting on a full-court press to hold a vote as soon as possible.

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Remember the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its language "affirming" the military's power to indefinitely detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, without charge or trial? Well, the 2013 NDAA bill begins its journey through the legislative process tomorrow morning in the House Armed Services Committee; take a look at what power they'll be trying to affirm for the Defense Department this time around:

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After indicating that they may veto the House's cybersecurity bill (CISPA) over privacy concerns, the Obama Administration is reaffirming its support for a competing cybersecurity bill in the Senate, the Lieberman-Collins "Cybersecurity Act of 2012." Problem is, the Lieberman-Collins bill is nearly as bad on privacy as CISPA.

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CISPA Rushed to Passage

April 27, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

In a snap vote last night, the House of Representatives passed the controversial Cyberintelligence Sharing and Protection Act, more commonly known as CISPA. The final roll call was 248-168, with most of the Republicans voting in favor and most of the Democrats voting against.

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One of the things that became clear in Congress’ push to pass Hollywood’s web censorship bills is that powerful corporations and the federal government do not want the rule of law to apply on the internet. The attitude that our basic freedoms and legal protections are somehow not valid on the internet is partly just the kind of reaction you would expect from entrenched powers whenever new technologies emerge, but it’s also a response to the particular peer-to-peer features of the internet that threaten to make their key sources of power -- control of information flow -- less relevant.

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Joe Lieberman's [I-CT] controversial cybersecurity bill, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, was approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs this afternoon. Though some senators on the committee raised concerns over certain sections, today's committee action means that the bill will now move to the Senate floor.

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Several bills to address cybersecurity lapses have been introduced in this session of Congress only to stall over concerns that they would give the President broad powers to step in and shut down access to the internet at will. But Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] is taking another stab at writing a bill that he thinks can move forward and become law. He recently introduced the bipartisan Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, but does it do enough to assure that civil liberties will be protected in the case of an emergency?

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Last April, Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV], the Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 to his committee. The goal of the bill was to develop a public-private plan for strengthening national security in the case of internet-based attacks. But it stalled almost immediately because of a controversial provision that would have give the President unilateral authority to declare a cybersecurity emergency and then shut down or limit access to parts of the internet without any oversight or explanation.

A couple weeks ago, Sen. Rockefeller partnered with Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] to introduce a major revision to the bill that, among other things, made changes the emergency "kill switch" provision. The revision was adopted by the committee last Thursday and the bill was approved. It's now ready for consideration by the full Senate, but it's not clear that the revision would actually prevent the President from gaining basically the same powers that would have been given to him in the original bill.

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House Takes Up Cybersecurity

February 3, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress has been working to improve U.S. cybersecurity for almost a year. The House of Representatives today actually began debating a bill, and they're on route to pass it tomorrow and send it to the Senate. Click through what's in it and what it would do.

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