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Unleashing the Leviathan

May 1, 2012

So, CISPA passed the House, as was depressingly predicted. But not without some strikingly Orwellian developments. For example, amendments were added in a last minute frenzy that “limited” the government’s use of shared information to the following purposes:

  1. cybersecurity;
  2. investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes;
  3. protection of individuals from the danger of death or physical injury;
  4. protection of minors from physical or psychological harm; and
  5. protection of the national security of the United States.

Yeah, real limited. Gotta love that gratuitous use of kiddie porn as the ever-present rationale. But what’s weird is how some people lauded the government for being explicit about the various ways in which government may use your private data (already).

To his administration’s credit, Obama voiced direct opposition to CISPA, and threatened to veto it. But that threat was based on opposition to the form of the bill that didn’t retain enough executive agency oversight over the rest of the executive branch to see if it is violating privacy or civil liberties, rather than being opposed to the premise that spying on Americans is a valid and desirable activity. Then again, Obama did just sign an executive order imposing sanctions on foreign nationals and companies that use cell phone tracking and other technologies to assist human rights abuses, so maybe there’s cause to be optimistic that civil liberties are actually values Obama will stand for.

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