I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but something has happened that you need to know about.
Last week, while our attention was diverted to the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt, the U.S. House of Representatives snuck in and struck a blow to civil liberties.
They passed new legislation called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA; and it has substantial implications for online freedom.
Although the President hasn’t officially signed CISPA yet, the Obama Administration has embraced Total Information Awareness –“TIA” for short – which refers to the government’s power to accumulate a massive, searchable database of every conceivable type of electronic information.
And I’m not even talking about the agencies already compiling virtually billions of phone and email records. CISPA has taken all of that to a new level. The United States government now has more power than ever to snoop on you.
CISPA advocates say the bill is an essential tool to protect Americans from foreign “hackers.”
But in actuality, it further erodes Americans’ internet privacy. CISPA is a clear example of politicos convincing the citizenry to abandon their liberties by manipulating fearfulness.
The End of Privacy
Under CISPA, corporations fork over the private data of American citizens to federal agents, as long as they can excuse the encroachment of your privacy in the name of protecting the vague mandate called “cyber security.”
And nothing will go untouched by those monitoring our activities.
At risk are emails… texts… Facebook (FB) posts… Tweets. Skype conversations. Discussion boards. Web pages. Travel records. Banking records. Credit card transactions. Stock market trades. Google (GOOG) searches. Even our landline and cell phone traffic.
All of it – fair game.
Your smartphone’s GPS will even share your exact location so the government will know whether you’ve joined one of those “domestic terrorist” groups.
And on top of that, the bill furnishes these private companies with immunity from lawsuits. CISPA typifies a disturbing form of corporatism, where companies surrender all obligations to protect your privacy in exchange for litigation protection. Companies can now be held harmless, irrespective of the hurt caused by divulging information to the government.
And if that doesn’t make your blood boil, perhaps this will: CISPA violates the fourth amendment.
The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Our Founding Fathers instituted broad measures to protect our privacy. But CISPA will allow federal officials to collect private information without a warrant from a federal judge.
The bill also grants federal agencies the right to give your information to other federal officials without obtaining a warrant.
Fortifying the Surveillance State
By this flinging open a previously barred (sealed, locked, barricaded) window to your private information, the government has laid the groundwork for an uber-intrusive surveillance state.
This is how it begins…
In September, the National Security Agency will open a one-million-square-foot mega-database facility, built by an army of 10,000 construction workers.
Located in Bluffdale, Utah, the federal data center will store information by the yottabyte. A yottabyte (10 followed by 24 zeros), makes a terabyte look microscopic. Powering this colossus requires a 200-megawatt air conditioning system (larger than what was used for the two World-Trade Centers combined). So much for “green” energy… this beast uses as much power as 200,000 homes.
This massive database – storing our every move – will be available to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, and, of course, the White House. If it travels through wires or the air, you can bank on it living on for eternity in the Utah datacenter. In the past, only the IRS has been so bold as to claim this power, but now everyone in government has easy access to your private data.
Welcome to Barack Obama’s fundamental transformation of America.
This article originally appeared at CapitalHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Photo credit: infocux Technologies (Creative Commons)