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The Senate’s New ‘Give the NSA All Your Private Info’ Bill Would Make George Orwell Blush

The government needs — nay, it deserves — completely unfettered access to your personal information, because cybersecurity.

by Esquire

While nobody was watching, the Senate a couple of days ago passed something called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed at least partly because if you say “Cyber warfare, boogedy-boogedy!” around nervous legislators these days, they’ll pass a bill agreeing to have the NSA plant microchips in their spleens.

The bill passed by one of those bipartisan majorities so beloved by Beltway pundits, 74-21. Now it goes to conference, and its final passage may be stalled because of the currently fluid state of the House Republican leadership.

In the Senate, Ron Wyden of Oregon really went to the mattresses over this bill, proposing a slew of privacy-related amendments that barely failed, but that failed nonetheless.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dianne Feinstein was the principal Democratic senator whipping support for the bill and, make no mistake, this is a truly awful law.

In brief, it not only opens the door to increased trawling through the lives of American citizens by the intelligence community, in many cases, it mandates it.

“Many industry groups, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and the White House argue CISA is needed to help the country better defend itself against cyberattacks. But privacy advocates criticized the bill as a surveillance measure that will simply shuttle more of Americans’ personal data to the government.

“In recent days, leading CISA critic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) made a vocal bid to win over enough votes to get through several privacy-focused amendments from himself and four other senators. These amendments, “seek to achieve the same goal… to reduce the unnecessary sharing of Americans’ private and personal information,” he said on the Senate floor Monday.

“Wyden was pushing his own amendment that would have injected stricter requirements for companies to remove personal information from their cyber threat data before handing it to the government. The proposal fell by a 41-55 vote.

“His change, he argued, would have provided CISA with “a straightforward standard that could give consumers real confidence that their privacy is actually being protected.” As it stands now, “the message behind this bill is, when in doubt, hand it over,” Wyden added.

Since the voters of Colorado exchanged Mark Udall for Cory Gardner in 2014, Wyden has been the leading voice in the Senate behind privacy concerns, and against the increased surveillance of ordinary Americans by the unsung, but curiously error-prone, snoops in our intelligence community. But he wasn’t alone.

Edward Snowden, International Man of Luggage, checked in from Moscow. Even some of the country’s largest tech goliaths – including Apple – were repelled by the blithe manner in which CISA and its supporters waved away what are very serious privacy concerns.

Here, for example, is what DiFi and her colleagues are asking you to take on faith.​

“The data in question would come from private industry, which mines everything from credit card statements to prescription drug purchase records to target advertising and tweak product lines.

“Indeed, much of it is detailed financial and health information the government has never had access to in any form. The bill’s proponents said the data would be ‘anonymized.'”

Of course it will be, and nobody at the NSA — Annual Operating Budget — will be tasked with “de-anonymizing” that information because the NSA never would do that. That would be wrong.

“CISA would create a program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through which corporations could share user data in bulk with several US government agencies. In exchange for participating, the companies would receive complete immunity from Freedom of Information Act requests and regulatory action relating to the data they share. DHS would then share the information throughout the government.”

I am assuming that sharing the information “throughout the government” here is not referring to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

In short, they don’t have to tell you they have your information, and they don’t have to tell you to whom they sent it, and why, and for what purpose it is being used, and you can never find out, even through the usual government channels like FOIA requests. I certainly trust the intelligence community with this kind of power.

I would like all the people who ridiculed Edward Snowden for saying that, if we allowed the government to do that which he revealed it already was doing, it would do more and the situation would get worse. The old retired Stasi vets in East Germany must be absolutely amazed.