Saturday, April 28, 2012

CISPA: What's Next?

Author's Note: I've covered the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act thoroughly in three previous columns you may want to read if you're not up to speed on the issue: CISPA Keynotes Cybersecurity Week, Who's Buying CISPA and Selling Us Out? and CISPA House Debate Starts Tomorrow.

Congress is currently considering CISPA – the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act – a bill that purports to protect the United States from “cyber threats” but would in fact create a gaping loophole in all existing privacy laws. If CISPA passes, companies could vacuum up huge swaths of data on everyday Internet users and share it with the government without a court order. I oppose CISPA, and I’m calling on Congress to reject any legislation that:
  • Uses dangerously vague language to define the breadth of data that can be shared with the government.
  • Hands the reins of America’s cybersecurity defenses to the NSA, an agency with no transparency and little accountability.
  • Allows data shared with the government to be used for purposes unrelated to cybersecurity.
Join me in opposing this bill by posting this statement on your own page and using this online form to send a letter to Congress against CISPA.

CISPA passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, with a vote of 258-168, even after this Tireless Agorist's impassioned pleas. I guess I don't run the world... yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Hat, Blue Hat, Which Hat, No Hat

There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern.
They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

Daniel Webster

Another of those infamous political discussions at the premier writer's site, Absolute Write, forced me to spend some time thinking about the differences between political groups, particularly those here in the US.

The political narrative in the US is between the left and the right, liberals (or progressives) and conservatives, or as I prefer to put it, the nanny state and the daddy state.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CISPA House Debate Starts Tomorrow

Author's Note: If you haven't been keeping up with CISPA, here are two earlier Tireless Agorist posts about CISPA: CISPA Keynotes Cybersecurity Week and Who's Buying CISPA and Selling Us Out?
The ACLU is asking that you contact your representative today because tomorrow the House of Representatives will open debate tomorrow on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, including more than 40 potential amendments. The first link above includes a lookup for your representative's phone number and even a sample script for the phone call.

Have you made that phonecall yet? Don't disappoint the ACLU, Tim Berners-Lee, Ron Paul, this Tireless Aorist, and a large group of other people. Go make your call, then come back and read what those people, and others, have to say about CISPA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Drones Coming Home to Roost

Civilian cousins of the unmanned military aircraft that have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia are in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird's-eye view that's too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get.

Customs and Border Patrol has nine Predator drones mostly in use on the U.S.-Mexico border, and plans to expand to 24 by 2016. Officials say the unmanned aircraft have helped in the seizure of more than 20 tons of illegal drugs and the arrest of 7,500 people since border patrols began six years ago.
The Federal Aviation Administration is gearing up to advance the widespread use of remotely piloted aircraft. By the fall of 2015, Congress wants the agency to integrate remotely piloted aircraft, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles and commonly called drones, throughout U.S. airspace.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jury Nullification Still Legal

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
Thomas Jefferson

In celebration of a recent decision that it's still legal to discuss jury nullification, I'll take this window of opportunity to dedicate a blog post to the topic. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood determined that it's perfectly legitimate to encourage jurors to vote their conscience, even when that conflicts with the letter of the law. More specifically, she found that distributing pamphlets about jury nullification is not jury tampering, even in front of a courthouse.

Jurors have the authority to judge the law and may vote to acquit a defendant who is guilty of doing something that should not be a crime.