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Opinion: CISPA is a clear violation of civil liberties

Austin Mann

Austin MannThe Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has finally made its way through the United States House of Representatives.

This bill would allow for unprecedented spying on American citizens.

 CISPA would give federal authorities and private firms the tools to collect and share private information about U.S. residents without a warrant. The bill was introduced by Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan.

CISPA illustrates the worst aspects of our government and corporate cultures – a collusion between these two institutions to infringe on the rights of ordinary Americans.

CISPA denotes that the U.S. government and private firms can only use collected data for “cybersecurity purposes,” although that is not very well defined.

Private firms cannot act beyond their own networks, although there is a loophole within the act that would allow for a firm to potentially “use aggressive countermeasures outside of its own network as long as it believed the countermeasures were necessary for protection,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

There is a provision to make sure that the government doesn’t trample over our civil liberties, but nothing to ensure that private firms won’t over-share or over-collect private information.

This doesn’t look good, but it gets even worse. Once a person’s information is collected under CISPA, there is absolutely nothing they can do to control how it is used.

CISPA prevents those who have their data collected from suing the government or private firms who collect that data. CISPA is also exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Groups have come out to oppose CISPA, some proposing another Internet blackout. This is because CISPA is not just an assault on our Fourth Amendment – it is also an unjustified expansion of government and corporate power.

This measure is an indefensible encroachment on civil liberties, and hopefully it will fail again.

Mann, a freshman computer science major from Raleigh, is an opinion writer.

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