Spies Like Them – Or – More Fun and Games with the Constitution


Two days ago, officials in the Obama Administration responded to an online petition complaining against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed by the House of Representatives April 18 by a vote of 288 for and only 127 against – most proponents being Republicans.

CISPA would allow private sector firms (Facebook, Twitter, Google, cell phone providers, etc.) to search ordinary U.S. citizens’ computers in search of information that would help the government to investigate and possibly prevent cyber attacks. Frankly, the word spying was the first word that came to mind; however, since I try to avoid hyperbole, I’ll just politely ask in my best Sunday School voice:

What the hell happened to the 4th Amendment?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In defense of the President, he said he’d veto CISPA if passed by the Senate, so it’s basically considered dead-in-the-water. That said, no idea ever seems to pass away in Congress for long. Once it’s on the table, it’s on the table for good. In fact, CISPA is already being reincarnated. Diane Feinstein (D–California) said Monday that a group of Senators is already drafting “a bipartisan information sharing bill.” Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s response was to tell lawmakers to, “not provide broad immunity for businesses and organizations,” and to minimize “information that can be used to identify specific individuals.

No, no, no! “Minimizing information,” “not providing immunity to businesses and organizations,” or reincarnating the concept in any other form so it looks like a kinder, gentler CISPA doesn’t change the fact that any search of an ordinary U.S. citizen’s computer is still a violation of the 4th Amendment!

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. (Benjamin Franklin, 1759, Historical Review of Pennsylvania)

Notice Franklin’s use of the word temporary. Because temporary safety is exactly the kind of safety we’ll have from cyber attacks if (when?) any form of CISPA is passed. If the 2nd Amendment is becoming more and more mangled to “protect” us from crazy evil violent people, why would anyone think that making hash of the 4th Amendment would “protect” us from cyber attacks?”

I’m sure the legislation would be just as effective as an offense against cyber threats as all the gun control crap was against protecting the Boston Marathon victims from the crazy, evil bombers.

Evil is like water. You can dam it up, but it will find – or make – another outlet. Meanwhile, the rest of us are forced to float along in increasingly restrictive channels.