Posts Tagged ‘PIPA’

This is “The Day We Fight Back”

Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm by
Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Unwarranted mass surveillance has proven to be a universal issue, providing common ground for private corporations, libertarian groups, and civil liberty advocates to unite. On Tuesday February 11, a broad coalition will take a stand against the National Security Agency (NSA) and engage in a global day of action, “The Day We Fight Back.

The Day We Fight Back is tied to the activist and technologist Aaron Swartz and his contributions to the digital rights movement. Swartz was a key individual in the movement to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that sought to limit access to sites with user-generated content. Because of the efforts of Swartz and other activists, the Internet remains intact as a universal platform for all users.


Constitution in Crisis: BORDC’s February Newsletter

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm by


Constitution in Crisis

In this issue:

Undoing the damage: Transpartisan alliances and grassroots action could repeal the NDAA’s detention provisions


Grassroots News

Law and Policy

New Resources and Opportunities

New cybersecurity bill reminiscent of SOPA/PIPA controversy

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm by

SOPA / PIPAAs the widespread criticism of the SOPA/PIPA debacle began to subside with the indefinite shelving of the proposal, Congress is continues to consider alternative methods for increasing cybersecurity that damage online privacy. The current draft of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2012 attempts to create ‘cybersecurity exchanges’ through which federal agencies and private entities could share confidential information without being subject to laws protecting individual privacy. Jim Harper from the Cato Institute explains his reading of the bill:

Reading over the draft, I was struck by sweeping language purporting to create “affirmative authority to monitor and defend against cybersecurity threats.” To understand the strangeness of these words, we must start at the beginning:

We live in a free country where all that is not forbidden is allowed. There is no need in such a country for “affirmative” authority to act. So what does this section do as it in purports to permit private and governmental entities to monitor their information systems, operate active defenses, and such? It sweeps aside nearly all other laws controlling them.

“Consistent with the Constitution of the United States and notwithstanding and other provision of law,” it says (emphasis added), entities may act to preserve the security of their systems. This means that the only law controlling their actions would be the Constitution.

It’s nice that the Constitution would apply, but the obligations in the Privacy Act of 1974 would not. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act would be void. Even the requirements of the E-Government Act of 2002, such as privacy impact assessments, would be swept aside.

The Constitution doesn’t constrain private actors, of course. This language would immunize them from liability under any and all regulation and under state or common law. Private actors would not be subject to suit for breaching contractual promises of confidentiality. They would not be liable for violating the privacy torts. Anything goes so long as one can make a claim to defending “information systems,” a term that refers to anything having to do with computers.

As Harper points out, the open-ended wording of this bill offers little protection for online privacy and essentially allows the government to act in ‘good faith’, without any significant limitations or mechanisms for accountability. This proposal is no better than SOPA or PIPA, which, if passed, would have enabled the government to shut down any websites containing links to online piracy websites where people could download illegal copies of music and movies.

As many have cited, there are good reasons for increased cybersecurity measures such as safeguarding the nation’s water and power systems, which experts have warned are already susceptible to cyber attacks from hackers. Fears over cyber attacks on systems such as air traffic controllers certainly provide adequate reason for concern. However, improvements in these areas of cybersecurity may be accomplished without creating venues for unregulated sharing of personal information between federal and private entities. Even if preventing the establishment of these ‘cybersecurity exchanges’ increases susceptibility to cyber attacks, that alone is not sufficient grounds for restricting Americans’ liberties under the First and Fourth Amendments protecting free expression and individual privacy.

The bill was introduced into Congress today and is supported by top members of the Senate Commerce, Intelligence, and Homeland Security Committees, among other members of Congress.

Congress and freedom of speech: Who’s paying?

Friday, January 20, 2012 at 8:25 am by

Stop SOPA And PIPA!!!Congress is set to continue its egregious assault on the Bill of Rights as the Senate reevaluates the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) in February. All paid for, of course, by the lobbyists of America.

Authored by Representative Lamar Smith, SOPA contains serious threats to the First Amendment by giving the government unprecedented power to censor the Internet.

SOPA and the House version, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), have a disgustingly noticeable money trail following them.

Internet piracy affects the profits of many large media businesses, so SOPA and PIPA greatly benefit their outspoken supporters Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), NewsCorp, CBS, and NBC.

Media businesses aren’t just talking about SOPA and PIPA, they’re using the full power of their bank accounts too. According to, Rep. Lamar Smith, the author of SOPA, received a total of $88,800 from the entertainment industry between 2011 and 2012.

Once again, the Bill of Rights is being exchanged for a wad of cash.

Congress made this exchange previously with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December. Yet apparently, the indefinite detention of American citizens didn’t make Congress enough money this year, and now they need to endanger free speech further by censoring the Internet.

Domestic and foreign policy needs to stop being shaped by financial interests. Corporations to do not overrule the Constitutions; their profits are not worth the exchange or our civil rights and freedoms.

SOPA and PIPA are bad policy. While some members of Congress have expressed their sincere disagreement with the bills,  many are still in support or undecided. Constituents need to take this opportunity to raise their voices against Internet censorship while they still have a chance.