CISPA Cyber Security Bill Moves Forward, IRS Says no Warrant Needed for Email Access

As the cyber security battle continues the IRS warns no warrant needed for email.

cispa uncle sam (Copy)

by Derrick Broze

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed through the  U.S. House Intelligence Committee by a vote of 18-2 on Wednesday evening.  The bill now goes to the full House for a vote as early as next week. The controversial measure was reintroduced in February after stalling in the Senate in 2012. Last year  President Obama issued a threat of presidential veto while activists protested nationwide.

The vote comes after a closed door meeting that was criticized by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).  Jeramie Scott, national security fellow at EPIC  said “Public accountability is paramount with cybersecurity. The House Intelligence Committee is trying to avoid public scrutiny. EPIC would like to see the process opened up to the public, robust privacy protections added, and Presidential Decision Directives on cybersecurity released to the public.”

EPiC are not alone in their opposition to the bill. The  the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and companies such as Facebook and Reddit have spoken out about fears of giving government too much access to individuals private information. There is also the worry of supplying the National Security Agency with an even larger pool of names to spy on.

The Hill reported:

“The bill leaves it up to companies to decide which government entity they want to share cyber threat data with, although the NSA is among the list of agencies that the measure allows them to relay information to. CISPA would also enable companies to receive valuable government intelligence about cyber threats and grant them liability protection from legal action if they share threat data with the government.”

While opponents are concerned over privacy invasion supporters of the bill believe it is necessary  to protect American businesses from having trade secrets hacked away, as well as protecting critical infrastructure. House Intelligence Committee ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) warned, “”We feel we have to move now. We don’t want another 9/11.”

Of course using 9/11 as a political tool is nothing to new it has begun to be a regular occurrence in reference to looming cyber attacks. In early February former NSA director, John, “Mike” McConnell,  who served as director of the National Security Agency under President Clinton and then as director of national intelligence under George W. Bush and President Obama,  was quoted as saying, “”We have had our 9/11 warning. Are we going to wait for the cyber equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers?”

When the politicians begin to use the 9/11 attacks to further their agenda you better watch out. There is an an ongoing agenda to begin limiting free speech online, and bills such as CISPA are the first steps. The Obama Administration has not issued a veto threat for this years version of CISPA, however they released a statement on the matter:

“We believe the adopted committee amendments reflect a good faith-effort to incorporate some of the administration’s important substantive concerns, but we do not believe these changes have addressed some outstanding fundamental priorities.”


While the administration publicly states that they are interested in protecting free speech and ensuring privacy concerns are addressed they have actually taken steps to do the opposite. Earlier this year President Obama issued an executive order relating to the internet. The President used one of his favorite tactics to personally implement information sharing provisions that could not be done legislatively through CISPA.

To date not a single piece of cyber security legislation has passed. CISPA and a host of other cyber legislation march forward. If these bills are unable to pass the President has made it clear he will use his executive privilege to protect critical infrastructure if necessary.

Contrary to what many believe the internet is not a place where your information is private and secure. No. More and more the government views your information as their business. Take the IRS for examples. According to a report in the HiIl the agency’s own documents state:

“In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.” A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy.”

The American Civil Liberties Union discovered the documents from a Freedom of Information Act Request. They are continuing to fight for more information on the matter.

As the battle for cyber security continues we are likely to see more fear mongering on the dangers of cyber terrorists. CISPA will be voted on shortly and if the President does not veto it will become law. There are also a number of international efforts to begin legislating the internet.

What remains clear is that governments around the world are working to regulate the internet one way or the other. As these efforts are  pushed forth  civil liberties are often set side aside in the name of some sense of cyber security. It is not only the job of groups like the ACLU, EPIC and the EFF to fight for the free internet. It is also ours.

Millions of us benefit from the free flow of information the internet allows. We must seek alternatives to accessing the net in the event of a shutdown. We need to create stronger local networks to communicate important information across. We must stand up and take to the streets when the authorities want to strip away our right to information. What ever your method of fighting, now is the time to fight for the internet.




Derrick Broze is a founding member of The Houston Free Thinkers.

He writes for a popular independent news website.

He can be heard on Orion Talk Radio, Local Live Houston and the upcoming Unbound Radio.

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