The Republican led U.S. House of Representatives passed CISPA on Thursday with a majority of the major problems still intact. However, they wouldn't even allow debate on an amendment put forward by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) which would have made a provision for obtaining a warrant before any kind of spying into private data could be done.
Grayson's one-sentence amendment would have required the National Security Agency, the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies to secure a "warrant obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment" before searching a database for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Grayson complained this morning on Twitter that House Republicans "wouldn't even allow debate on requiring a warrant before a search."
CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying "notwithstanding any other provision of law," including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information "with any other entity, including the federal government." It would not, however, require them to do so.
That language has alarmed dozens of advocacy groups, including the American Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders, which sent a letter (PDF) to Congress last month opposing CISPA. It says: "CISPA's information-sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of e-mails, to any agency in the government." President Obama this week threatened to veto CISPA.
Well we can't believe the words that come out of Barack Obama's mouth. After all, he said the same thing about the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and look how easy that was for him to sign, even though it included the indefinite detention sections, which clearly violate the U.S. Constitution.
In the letter to Congress from advocacy groups they argue that the bill allows for collection of potentially sensitive such as Internet records and contents of emails which could then be used "without meaningful oversight for purposes unrelated to cybersecurity."
The House Intelligence committee contends that any claim that "this legislation creates a wide-ranging government surveillance program" is untrue.
According to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), "The government could use this information to investigate gun shows" and even football games or other events where "serious bodily harm" might take place. Because of the ambiguous language in CISPA it would allow federal agencies to "go on fishing expeditions for electronic devices," Polis said.
One has to wonder, especially in light of the latest bombings and the fact that the two suspects were all over YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, why things can not be obtained apart from CISPA, which is a gross violation of the Constitution.
Let's hope the Senate will act on this the way they did on gun control earlier this week and kill it. Contact your Senators and let them know that you do not approve of violations of the Constitution in order to "provide security" of any kind and that this legislation allows the Federal government to violate the Fourth Amendment.