For once, Congress actually did their job. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was killed when Americans expressed their disapproval of privacy violations, and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was also shelved last year after negotiations broke down. Both pieces of legislation have names that sound positive but don’t be fooled–like many government programs, they are the exact opposite of that in reality and will do absolutely nothing to improve our nation’s security. We are pleased that in both cases, Congress listened to the American people, the majority of who were opposed to these privacy-killing regulations.
But that doesn’t matter to Barack Obama. He just brought CISPA back in the form of an executive order, which contains the worst of both of these acts.
The Internet is a goldmine of information, and every day we are changing the way we live and interact with one another based on technological innovations and creative uses for social media. But this goldmine is about to become the government’s treasure chest. Obama’s version of CISPA means that any information shared online that is deemed a cyber threat–which you can imagine, with the government involved, can be highly subjective in nature–can be shared openly with government, security agencies and private companies. Worse yet, you will have no legal recourse, even if you didn't do anything wrong.
Obama has already declared that he can assassinate American citizens or detain them indefinitely based on a threat, now he is claiming ownership of your personal information. You can be searched without cause and convicted without a trial—all because Obama has decreed it so.
This is in direct violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, which are supposed to keep you "secure" and give you protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Nobody “owns” the Internet, but CISPA almost guarantees the U.S. government will hold dominion over it. Every website you visit, every piece of personal data you enter, and every action you take online will soon become the property of the Feds. And don’t think those long-winded privacy policies on websites will help you; Obama’s executive order will make them meaningless. CISPA’s current language says that information can be shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
And, any actions taken under CISPA will be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Because even though Obama vowed transparency on his first full day in office back in 2009, he has done nothing but hide information and stall investigations whenever approached for the truth. He clearly has no use for the Constitution or accountability.
Obama’s actions have already been ruled illegal but he is forging ahead anyway, encouraging Congress to come up with even more regulations to supplement his executive order. Katz v. the United States (1967) found that the Fourth Amendment applies to immaterial intrusion with technology as a search. And in the 2010 case United States v. Warshak, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his emails, and the government VIOLATED THE FOURTH AMENDMENT by forcing an internet service provider to turn over emails without a warrant.
Once again, Barack Obama believes he and his government agencies can do a better job than private companies. That must be the reason the U.S. Postal Service is bleeding money and ending Saturday delivery—good management.
No one denies the fact that if you’re going to be a part of the Internet; you need to know how to keep your site safe from hackers and attackers. But very few think it’s a good idea to bundle up all kinds of data on American citizens and hand it over with a bow on top to the feds.
Because this is another very important, intrusive, must-do-it-now thing for Obama, he is taking care of it himself via executive order, saying in his State of the Union address that “We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”
Much as he has done with every heavy-handed government decree, he has used the premise of urgency, emergency and “we-can’t-wait” to shove through his agenda. And everything he has ever done has expanded the scope and reach of the federal government. Everything.
Sources close to the White House report that Obama plans to “rely heavily” on his executive powers to force his agenda without the input of Congress. After the Sandy Hook tragedy he issued 23 orders on gun control alone.
Members of Congress are expressing frustration at Obama’s dismissal of them, and individuals and organizations are fighting back just like they did with SOPA and trying to make CISPA dead on arrival. But this issue is only beginning; Obama wants Congress to add to his executive order and impose more draconian regulations on businesses. His order, as it stands, claims that participation is “voluntary,” but it is logical to see that mandatory rules are coming down the pike, either from Obama or Congress. And, the program being voluntary or not has nothing to do with the fact that the big ole government is about to be able to get its hands on what you do online and use it against you at will. That part is not voluntary at all.
ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson warned, “As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back.”
Fax Congress and support our legislative process. Tell them they did the right thing by stopping SOPA and CISPA, and encourage them to stop any intrusive provisions Obama puts in his executive order. Our Fourth Amendment rights depend on it.