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The back-and-forth on cybersecurity was elevated Tuesday, when Republican obstruction over amendment caused Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a cloture vote for Thursday, in an attempt to force Republicans to negotiate in good faith on amendments. That's essentially a false hope, considering the first amendment suggested by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Because of all the national security implications of health insurance.

Just consider that for a moment. Republicans are so intent on creating another failure for the Obama administration that they're holding up what everybody is calling a critical national security bill. Because when it fails, they can point at Obama and say he didn't do anything to protect our nation's critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. Yes, they are that cynical.

Like the House CISPA bill, the Senate Cybersecurity Act sets up a system for private companies and the government to share information when they believe a national cybersecurity threat is involved. That includes information that could contain the personal data of ordinary web users. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill contains some protection for private citizens, including requirements that personal identifying information be obscured, and data deleted after it is evaluated. The Senate bill also has at least some language suggesting that maybe it'd be a good idea if private industry would at least consider meeting some standards to protect itself.

Which the Chamber of Commerce finds absolutely unacceptable, and has apparently led Republicans to demand that the already voluntary compliance by industry of minimum security standards be left out entirely. And now, as we've been predicting, the big fight is over civil liberties and privacy; how easily government can get access to our private online data and what they can do with and whether it ends up in the hands of the military and intelligence agencies or domestic law enforcemement.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain is trying to weaken privacy protections, allowing private companies to share information about their customers directly with the National Security Administration. Democrats, however, are trying to strengthen civil liberty protections even more. Sen. Patrich Leahy (D-VT) has an amendment that would require the government to get a search warrant, based on probable cause, whenever it wanted access to a private citizen's email. Sen. Ron Wyden wants to offer an amendment requiring law enforcement to get a warrant before getting geolocation data from private cellphones.

At this point, with all these competing amendments, Republican obstruction could actually trump national defense. The cloture vote set for Thursday might actually fail. But, in case it doesn't, the threat of those privacy thrashing amendments, and the potential further damage that could be done to erode those protections in conference with the House still make this bill too dangerous.

Urge your senators to vote "No" on the cybersecurity bill, S. 3414.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO, bobswern, blueoasis, hubcap

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 03:07:42 PM PDT

  •  A very important post. Thanks for this! And... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis see how bad things are getting as far as cyber privacy issues are concerned checkout THIS recent story, from just a couple of weeks ago.

    As I noted in my post, yesterday...

    ...if you have any doubts that we’re not already miles beyond any semblance of “democracy,” and light years past “clichés” about 1984, I’d suggest you read THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, and especially THIS.
    Frankly, for all intents and purpose, this horse got out of the barn awhile ago. But, it's good to see at least an attempt at something sane being done about this now...assuming matters are not more formally "negotiated" away on Capitol Hill, which is more often than not the standard operating procedure these days.

    In general, however, this is a profoundly sad story.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:09:51 PM PDT

  •  "Critical cyber security bill" NOT (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Ginsu

    This is another "spy on Americans and control what they do on the internet and how they do it" bill and named in such a way that people are led to believe "the purpose is to protect America and its citizens".  One provision allows the President to take control of the internet in the U.S. for national security reasons.  Furthermore, it puts the power to determine what is and is not "critical security infrastructure" in the hands of a committee appointed by the President.

    As defined by the bill: "The term "cyber" means - (A) any process, program, or protocol relating to the use of the Internet or an intranet, automatic data processing or transmission, or telecommunication via the Internet or an intranet; and (B) any matter relating to, or involving the use of, computers or computer networks."

    This allows the President or his appointees to potentially have control of every computer in the nation, determining what software and hardware can be installed, and basically concentrating power in the hands of the executive.

    Anything that kills this bill is a good thing.

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