For all their talk of small government, Florida's Republicans sure do like a bill that would let Big Brother spy on all the stuff you've been doing online.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would remove the legal barriers between the websites that have your data and the government that wants it: For example, right now, if Facebook gives a bunch of your private information to the government, you can sue them. But if CISPA becomes law, you can't, because this lovely law makes it totally cool for companies to hand over your online data (including emails and pictures) to the government -- without a warrant -- if the reason is ostensibly connected to cybersecurity.
It passed in the House of Representatives yesterday with the help of 17 of the state's 19 Republican legislators.
"Cyber attacks have become a new dimension in the 21st Century Battlefield and now goes beyond attacks on military capabilities and capacities," Rep. Allen West wrote on Facebook. "We must protect American citizens as well as the intellectual property of our private sector."
Ah, yes -- just give us all your emails because we want to protect you. When SOPA looked to quash internet free speech, West whined, "Sorry Mr. President, this is a democracy." But label something "national security" and he runs the flag up the pole and votes to take away online privacy protections.
(Thanks for that vote on indefinitely detaining American citizens too sir. Steadfast and loyal.)
And the government wouldn't be the only one who can do the snooping -- according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the private companies holding your data can now strut straight past the Wiretap Act and Electronic Communications Act to check out your information if they say it's in connection with a threat to cybersecurity.
They then have the option of giving it to the government without any judicial oversight. Facebook has come out in support of the bill, but Vice President Joel Kaplan explained that the appeal was not in the warrantless shoveling of personal data to the NSA.
"One challenge we and other companies have had is in our ability to share information with each other about cyber attacks. When one company detects an attack, sharing information about that attack promptly with other companies can help protect those other companies and their users from being victimized by the same attack," Kaplan wrote in a statement. "The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place -- the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users."
Ah, good. They "have no intention of doing this." Looks like we'll have to take the giant, multinational corporation at its word.
Kaplan's right about the the bill helping companies and the government fight and coordinate defenses from cyber attacks, but the wording of CISPA means it's at the cost of quite literally every online privacy law ever passed -- it specifically states that the law takes precedence over any others that might protect privacy in the instances referenced.
The only Florida Republican legislators to vote against the bill were Reps. Connie Mack and Bill Posey; all the Democrats voted against it except for Rep. Kathy Castor.