Access to information, privacy, and a free internet are essential to our civil liberties, our free press, our digital technology industry and our democracy, which requires an informed electorate. Our high tech sector knows the technology side best in California.
Sadly, this is an area where California's US Senate leadership is weakest. When in 2011 corporate copyright owners sought the power to shut down web sites without due process with the bills PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the Senate and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House, Senators Feinstein and Boxer were co-sponsors. It took companies like Google and WIkipedia blacking out the internet before our legislators paid attention and suspended that assault on internet freedom.
More recently Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a potentially even more dangerous assault on our privacy and freedom. It would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and private technology and manufacturing companies, with few limits on how and when the government may monitor a private individual’s Internet browsing information.
When such a dangerous bill passes the House, our Senators should be protecting us.
But Senator Feinstein often co-sponsors and votes for unconstitutional bills, or is eager to tweak bills that are fundamentally unconstitutional in a compromise process, and has failed to oppose CISPA.
As Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation states, "To date, the authors of the bill have been unresponsive to these criticisms, offering amendments that are largely cosmetic. Dismissing the grave concerns about how this bill could undermine the core privacy rights of everyday Internet users."
The American Civil Liberties Union writes, "The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would create a cybersecurity exception to all privacy laws and allow companies to share the private and personal data they hold on their American customers with the government for cybersecurity purposes. Beyond the potential for massive data collection authorization, the bill would provide no meaningful oversight of, or accountability for, the use of these new information-sharing authorities."
We're in a crisis where our legislators aren't standing up for our privacy and freedom. Our Senators should be defending our rights and paying attention to the EFF the the ACLU and other reliable protectors of freedom on these issues.
As Senator, that's what David Levitt will do.