The House will vote on CISPA this week. This vote will decide whether or not the House majority thinks companies should be able to share your private online information with the government while enjoying total legal immunity. The second debate of the bill shows that the bill’s proponents don’t care about your privacy at all.
The EFF reports that CISPA went up for debate before the rules committee. During the hearing, congressmen were able to question the bill’s author, Rep. Mike Rogers, on the more troubling parts of the bill. The entire report is a little depressing as Rogers argued that CISPA has enough privacy protections already, and that the bill’s opponents are 14-year-olds living in their basement.
Those who questioned CISPA at the hearing had the same concerns that the White House expressed in its veto threat. The two main concerns were that not enough was being done to protect private information before it’s sent to the government, and that the bill doesn’t require the bill to go through a civilian agency first. Two valid concerns, and concerns that Rogers says are moot points.
In response to the first concern, Rogers says that identifiable information can’t be sent to the government because it’s all “zeroes and ones.” He seems to be under the impression that the government will be too busy scanning binary for cyberthreats that it will never collect any personally identifiable information from the content being shared with it either. Roger’s view displays a level of ignorance that shouldn’t be tolerated among Congress.
The second concern was framed in the context of how it would hurt the Web economy. Rep. Jared Polis said that allowing companies to share your private information with the government, including military agencies, would decrease the users’ trust in the Internet. He argues that online services would see a decrease in business thanks to decreased trust in their services:
It appears that Rogers didn’t even provide a proper response to this concern. He just said that it wouldn’t be a problem and moved on.
Rogers’ response is why CISPA is so dangerous to begin with. Every concern that’s brought up is met with a simple response of “It won’t be a problem.” Such a response does nothing to dissuade fears. In fact, it makes us fear CISPA more if its author can’t even mount a proper response to its critics. In any other debate, arguing that a problem isn’t a problem without the proper evidence to back it up would be laughed off the stage. It’s apparently not only welcome, but encouraged, in the House though.
After providing non-responses to the concerns brought forward by other representatives, Rogers also blocked a number of pro-privacy amendments from making into the final CISPA that will go before the House for a floor vote. One such amendment came from Rep. Adam Schiff that would have automated the removal of identifiable information from data before it was shared with the government. In the current CISPA, the bill leaves it up to the government to remove any identifiable information after it’s already in their hands.
We’re likely to see a vote on CISPA today or tomorrow. The vote isn’t likely to last long, and Rogers will most likely attempt to just ram it through without any more debate. We’ll let you know how the vote went, but don’t expect good news.