The House of Representatives added an amendment to their Cybersecurity bill CISPA, and then passed it 248-168. Those 248 people need to take a high school civics course are get a refresher on the Bill of Rights.
The bill will annihilate our 4th Amendment rights on the Internet by creating a loophole whereby the authorities can pretty much establish cause to search any files you’re sharing with another web service – Email, Google Docs, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, banking, medical databases, websites, Google Search, you name it, if it isn’t hosted on your own server, you’re screwed.
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power.
CISPA is now a completely unsupportable bill that rewrites (and effectively eliminates) all privacy laws for any situation that involves a computer. Far from the defense against malevolent foreign entities that the bill was described as by its authors, it is now an explicit attack on the freedoms of every American.
I’m choosing to believe that 248 of our Representatives are just incredibly stupid, because otherwise they are evil. This is one of the most oppressive bills I’ve ever heard of. Bunch of savages.
Hopefully Obama comes through with a Veto, and it holds up.
Well, they don’t actually make it smaller, but plasma rockets will make Space travel a whole lot shorter.
To and from Mars in 39 days shorter (It takes a year with conventional rockets to travel one way to Mars).
Check out this video for some serious innovation.
It may be very Cold War of me to say, but space travel still very important and needs proper funding.
While I’m on the subject of Space, I have a thought or two about NASA.
NASA outright fucked up a lot in my lifetime.
They blew up two manned shuttles in avoidable disasters, spent years fixing a space telescope that didn’t work properly when they launched it, buried a probe in Mars because they mixed up units of measure, and now the cocaine scandal.
Not much of a resume.
As a consequence, I didn’t grow up enamored with NASA. I never experienced the days of astronauts as international icons.
However, I deeply believe in NASA’s mission. NASA is about what’s next, even if we don’t know what’s next. Their research has lead to tons of safety gear, consumer, and industrial products (Products Derived From Space Exploration). We know more about the Universe, and our place in it thanks to NASA.
A little over one hundred years ago, the concept of human flight was hardly conceivable. In a century, it went from inconceivable, to expensive and glamorous, and finally to everyday and tedious (Painful if you fly US Airways).
Time moves quickly. What was new becomes old at an ever increasing rate. That’s why NASA needs funding. Funding that will allow it to continue to do research that doesn’t necessarily have a practical intent. Great and unexpected things can emerge from such research.
Besides, NASA hasn’t gotten it all wrong. They launched the Mars Rover, and it was supposed to work for 90 days. It lasted five years. Religions festivals happen yearly to honor events that are far less miraculous and impressive.
The clunky title pretty much says it. This is the story from Wired:
The Obama administration is backing $675,000 in damages a Massachusetts student must pay the Recording Industry Association of America for file sharing 30 songs.
The Justice Department, where President Barack Obama has tapped five former RIAA lawyers to serve, said copyright infringement “creates a public harm that Congress determined must be deterred.”
That’s $22,500 per song. How the hell is that not considered cruel and unusual punishment?
You can read the whole story on Wired.com. All I’ve got to say on the subject is that this disgusts me.
There is a bill in the Senate that, in short, would grant the President of the United States the power to attempt to control the Internet in the event of an emergency. You can read all about it on cnet.
I’ve been staring at this article for days, and intentionally waited to respond to it so that I could have a level head… because as anyone who has been following this blog knows, this kind of bill upsets me on a very deep level.
Before I give my response, here is what Jena Longo, Deputy Communications Director for the Senate Commerce Committee had to say about the general concern and anger coming from us net folks:
The president of the United States has always had the constitutional authority, and duty, to protect the American people and direct the national response to any emergency that threatens the security and safety of the United States. The Rockefeller-Snowe Cybersecurity bill makes it clear that the president’s authority includes securing our national cyber infrastructure from attack. The section of the bill that addresses this issue, applies specifically to the national response to a severe attack or natural disaster. This particular legislative language is based on longstanding statutory authorities for wartime use of communications networks. To be very clear, the Rockefeller-Snowe bill will not empower a “government shutdown or takeover of the Internet” and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false. The purpose of this language is to clarify how the president directs the public-private response to a crisis, secure our economy and safeguard our financial networks, protect the American people, their privacy and civil liberties, and coordinate the government’s response (cnet).
In no small terms, this is a bad bill.
First and foremost, it states an unachievable goal. Controlling the Internet really isn’t possible. Sections could be controlled, but there will always be knowledgeable people who will be able to circumvent any control system. Such is the nature of a distributed network. However, the goal being unachievable doesn’t take away from that fact that trying is still tyrannical.
Second, if the technological argument doesn’t work for you, let’s look at the general nature of politics. Let’s say, for argument sake you believe that Barack Obama can do no wrong (or at the very least, means very well). You think that granting this man the power to take control over the Internet isn’t a problem because he is such a good guy, and you trust his judgment. I am not saying that he is, but I have no doubt that there are people in the US who do believe that. Would you grant these same powers to the next President? What about George W. Bush? Would you feel comfortable with him having these powers?
Don’t grant powers that you wouldn’t want in the hands of the other side. Inevitably someone you don’t like, and don’t agree with will be President.
Third, what constitutes a “severe attack or natural disaster?” Who decides that? It’s not always as clear as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. I’m sure that civil disobedience could be construed as a severe attack.
This is vague, dangerous, and tyrannical bill.
Every once in a while life affords you the opportunity to witness, and play a small part in something great.
My friend and college buddy Peter Rizzo had been an official in the Town of Tonawanda; a suburb of Buffalo, New York. I’ve known and worked with quite a few government officials in the past, and Pete is one of the rare few who doesn’t do things for power, attention or with any expectation of reward. He works hard for what he feels is right.
Why am I writing an obviously non-geek post about a friend/ local official?
The answer to that is because Pete accomplished something incredible last week.
On Tuesday, August 18th, the brand new Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial was dedicated. Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people showed up to honor our veterans at the unveiling of a spectacular new monument. General Colin Powell delivered the keynote address, and Pete read a Presidential Proclamation from Barack Obama, in addition to his own speech.
Here’s a video of local news coverage of the event:
A portion of Peter’s speech really underscores the purpose and thought behind the memorial:
All of our veterans sacrificed for us, whether they served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine. Whether from private to general, from seaman recruit to admiral, or from airman to general, regardless of rank, every single veteran has sacrificed for us, for our community, for our country. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why the memorial before you lists only names, and not rank. Rank is an honor in and of itself, but service is the common thread that unites them all. We honor all who have served us equally, without prejudice.
I had the opportunity to be a sounding-board for Pete throughout the entire process, and help him craft his communications and pitches to get this project off the ground. While I played an incredibly small role in this big project (which entailed raising $100,000 (correction) more than $180,000 and navigating the labyrinth that is local politics), I am just honored to have been a part of it. However, I must confess that I didn’t believe the thing would ever get built.
I seriously underestimated Pete’s dedication, determination and seemingly endless well of patience. He wanted to do something to honor, and remember the sacrifice of all veterans, of all ranks, from all wars. He succeeded.
For most people, the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial will honor our Country’s veterans. For those of us who know Pete, and understand how hard he worked to make this idea real, the Memorial will also serve as a monument to action. It’s easy to come up with an idea like this. Working nearly six years to make it a reality is something entirely different.
… And that’s worthy of an off-topic post.
Last week President Obama gave Queen Elizabeth II an iPod with 40 show tunes as a gift.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out that the President probably violated the iTunes terms of service as a result of giving her the gift. At the very least it is incredibly ambiguous.
I took a look at the terms of service for myself and they are absolutely correct that there seems to be no real answer about who owns the music after a user pays for it.
I recommend reading the original EFF post because it clearly explains the problems and ambiguity with our current intellectual property laws. Any attempt to improve upon their post would be a total waste of your time and mine.
This just goes to show you how ill-equipped our legal system is for present and future technology.