Do you trust the federal government?


Stop and think about it.

Be honest.

When the federal government claims it wants to solve some problem, do you immediately take it for granted that it actually wants to solve the problem at hand and that it harbors no ulterior motive? Or do you instantly think. “Uh-oh, what’s the catch?”

The feds say they want to improve cybersecurity. Last year, Congress tried to pass a bill known as CISPA claiming to do just that. Privacy advocates went ballistic and ultimately managed to kill the bill. Why? Because a realistic look at the legislation revealed it would do little to improve cybersecurity, but it would dramatically expand the surveillance state and make it easier for tech companies to share your private information with government snoops.

Well, the feds are nothing if not persistent. Now we have CISPA 2.0, known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA. Congress took one letter out of the acronym, but not much else changed. Like CISPA, CISA would do little to improve cybersecurity, but it would dramatically expand the surveillance state and make it easier for tech companies to share your private information with government snoops.

Yes, I’m being redundant. On purpose.

Guardian columnist Trevor Timm wrote an outstanding column highlighting the danger of CISA, calling it a nightmare for civil liberties.

Cisa is what Senator Dianne Feinstein, the bill’s chief backer and the chair of the committee, calls an “information-sharing” law that’s supposed to help the government and tech and telecom companies better hand information back and forth to the government about “cyberthreat” data, such as malware. But in reality, it is written so broadly it would allow companies to hand over huge swaths of your data – including emails and other communications records – to the government with no legal process whatsoever. It would hand intelligence agencies another legal authority to potentially secretly re-interpret and exploit in private to carry out even more surveillance on the American public and citizens around the world.

You can read the rest of the column HERE.

I find it interesting that many, if not most, Americans put their faith in Congress to rein in the NSA and protect their privacy. Somehow, they believe that the same people conjuring up “nightmares for civil liberties,” selling out their privacy rights and barreling right over the Fourth Amendment will one day wake up and say, “Hey, let’s give up all of this power and dismantle the spy-state.”

I’ve got four words for you.

Not. Going To. Happen.

Not without some type of external pressure that will force the status quo in Washington D.C. to change.

The OffNow strategy seeks to create that kind of external pressure through state and local action. Instead of counting on the political class in D.C. to undergo some kind of miraculous metamorphosis and suddenly put your rights over their power, we will harness the states through grassroots action and force change from the bottom up.

Please consider joining us in our efforts!

Photograph: KylaBorg / Flickr via Creative Commons (Street art, Privacy: The Game, by Zabou)


Mike Maharrey

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