Monday, April 30, 2012

USA: Congress approves Internet's permanent state of emergency (CISPA)

In the name of "National Security" the US Congress pased this Thursday the CISPA law, which allows for omni-present Internet snooping without any warrant or court approval. This of course not only affects US citizens but absolutely everyone on Earth because, let's not forget, the Internet is not a UN agency but a US-owned one. 

This is not really new, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation mentioned earlier this week:

... from 2003-2006, the FBI issued more than 192,000 National Security Letters to get Americans’ business, phone or Internet records without a warrant. These invasive letters—which come with a gag order on the recipient so they can’t even admit they received one—have been used to gather information about untold number of ordinary citizens, including journalists.

Of all those almost 200,000 Gestapo-style interventions of communications only one ended up in a conviction for terrorism, which hardly seems to justify the invasion of human and civil rights, never mind your privacy and the scrapping of all the guarantees traditionally applied to telephone and mail communications, requiring court order to intervene.

But even more worrisome is probably the relative lack of reaction: a lot of people just don't seem to care: they take what authorities say as a matter of fact and don't even raise an eyebrow when the fundamental rights on which freedoms and the so-called democracy are founded are being scrapped overnight. Hitler would not have been able to do better. 

It's not just the IBF or the NSA: the info they snoop on you ends up at your state or local police agencies in the name of "information sharing". So your local sheriff is probably aware of your whole Internet life, or he can if he so wishes. 

It's like going naked all the time, knowing that even the most intimate act of your online life will be observed, maybe mocked and very possibly used against you exactly like in Orwell's 1984, where the true crime was to think outside the box (crimethink, all the rest was just the cat playing with its food for greater humiliation and psychological destruction).

What does CISPA that was not done before? Antifascist Calling explains that:

Amongst CISPA's controversial provisions, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Obergruppenführer of America's 16-agency Intelligence Community, "shall issue guidelines providing that the head of an element of the intelligence community may, as the head of such element considers necessary to carry out this subsection: (A) grant a security clearance on a temporary or permanent basis to an employee or officer of a certified entity; (B) grant a security clearance on a temporary or permanent basis to a certified entity and approval to use appropriate facilities; and (C) expedite the security clearance process for a person or entity as the head of such element considers necessary, consistent with the need to protect the national security of the United States."

Newspeak dictionary:  
  • certified entity means you or any of your service providers where you think (wrongly) that you have some intimacy or security of any sort.
  • cyber threat information means, among other things, whistleblowing because getting your hands on any information that is not your creation or has been declared public domain of some sort is intellectual property theft now. Under CISPA the celebrated hero-journalists of the Watergate scandal would be indicted and probably convicted of intellectual property theft, they and their papers legally gagged and Nixon would have been easily reelected without any negative news at all. 

Sources and more information: Antifascist Calling, the Electronic Frontier FoundationCryptome

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