❝Negotiated in secret and tucked in legislation thousands of pages long, Congress is about to pass an awful surveillance bill under the guise of “cybersecurity” that could open the door to the NSA acquiring much more private information of Americans.
❝…Congress already passed the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” (CISA) last fall – a surveillance bill in cybersecurity’s clothing. It essentially carved a giant hole in all our privacy laws and gave technology and telecommunications companies a free hand to give all sorts of private information – including our emails – to the government without any court process whatsoever, as long as there was some sort of vague rationale involving “cybersecurity”.
But now the legislation has gotten even worse. Because the House and Senate passed slightly different versions, they had to be combined and voted on one more time – and, in negotiations, the bill’s most fervent supporters decided to strip away the (already really weak) privacy provisions from both the House and Senate versions. These protections, while wholly inadequate, were the only reasons that many members of Congress who would’ve otherwise opposed CISA voted for it.
❝The latest version of the bill gives even more immunity from privacy lawsuits to companies like Google or Facebook or AT&T when they hand over your private information as long as there’s some vague “cybersecurity” reason – even if they commit gross negligence in handing it over. The bill also makes it much more likely that companies will hand any and all information directly to intelligence agencies like the NSA.
❝Not that we’ll know anything about what the companies do hand over: the new version also carves out an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that prevents anyone from requesting data on the type of information requested or the amount that’s being handed over…
❝So remember this moment the next time we have another mass surveillance scandal that is only exposed – many years from now – through another leak. It’s quite likely it will have started with tech companies “voluntarily” handing over large swaths of private information to the government, on a rolling basis, until it becomes a regular occurrence and morphs into its own domestic spying program. That reckoning may be months or years away, but this legislation has started us down that path.
I added the emphasis above. Frankly, I think Trevor Timm is being too nice. I doubt we’ll have to wait long for the NSA/FBI to throw the switch and ramp up snooping on every American to levels well above anything George W Bush ever did. I’ve been confronting creeps like this for over a half-century. Once in a while our government gets up on their hind legs and forces a cutback on snooping. That lasts as long as anyone in authority keeps an eye on the spies.
You needn’t look over your shoulder or pry open your cellphone to know if Uncle Sugar is there. He is. Encryption, encryption, encryption is our only faint chance at privacy and the bastards are trying their best to take that away, as well.