The governments financial payoffs afforded to, and the campaign finance contributions offered by private companies like, Google, Verizon, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and, Apple aiding FISA court authorized surveillance can no longer be easily brushed off. Moreover, the bribing and endemic influencing peddling our elected officials encourage while they bend, twist and urinate on the US Constitution proves we have lost control of our “by the people, for the people” Republic.
Americans naively suppose our elected officials honor their oaths to protect and defend our constitutional rights. Think again.
HR., 624, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed in the House in April 2013 with bi-partisan support, allows private internet companies to surrender information about its users to law enforcement and security agencies “in the event of a cyber attack.” Correct me if I am wrong, but is not America under a constant “cyber attack?”
Republican Mike Rogers is the bills original sponsor. In the last election cycle, Rep. Rogers and his PAC received a combined $103,000 dollars in campaign contributions from a dozen companies lobbying on CISPA with an additional $20K provided by a Pentagon defense contractor, “SAIC,” who supplies electronics systems to various government agencies. It also warrants noting 192 organizations registered to lobby on CISPA in the first quarter of 2013.
HR., 756, the “Cyber security Enhancement Act of 2013 (CSEA)” would require, if legislated, government development and implementation of a plan and standards for Cyber security R&D funding using technology industry input. It also passed the House in April 2013 with bi-partisan support.
A consortium of seventy companies made up of defense and technology industry groups lobbied on CSEA. The computer and internet industry managed to contribute $96,000 to the bills sponsor, Mike McCaul (Texas) in the last election cycle. His Democrat co-sponsor, Dan Lipinski (Ill) received over $70,000 from the Defense Electronics Industry, Special Trade Contractors and various entrenched public sector trade unions.
In recent committee hearings, FBI Director Robert Mueller, recommended the expansion of the “Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA)”. CALEA requires internet providers and phone companies to maintain the technology necessary to comply with wiretap orders. The FBI requested CALEA be amended to include Skype, Facebook, and other budding electronic communications platforms. Apparently, the FBI was not aware of the “Prism” program set up by the NSA, supposedly overseen by Congress, which already provides for the funneling of information gathered by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, Youtube, Skype, AOl, and Apple, on targeted persons, to the government.
Would you be surprised to know that all of these private companies along with the Internet Industry Association and the US Chamber of Commerce (just to name a few) contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns and lobbies for more intrusive government cyber monitoring programs every year. They also demand that Cyber security legislation include provisions absolving them of any potential liabilities for violations of US citizen privacy protections guaranteed by our US Constitution, all in the interest of National Security. It’s smart business. After all, who do you think is paid off to develop and maintain these government surveillance systems?
My research revealed another infuriating and particularly obscene disregard for the law allowed by our incorruptible government. The “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1996 (COPPA)”.
COPPA, a 1998 law was designed to prohibit websites from gathering “personal information” data on users under the age of thirteen. COPPA has undergone various government reviews and revisions redefining the term “personal information.” In addition to a child’s name, home address, email address, SS number and other contact information, COPPA now protects cookies, IP addresses, and mobile device ID’s that can be used to target children for product advertising based on their online behavior.
Mandatory compliance deadlines for newly adopted COPPA regulations are opposed by Internet industry trade groups, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Application Developers Association. These groups and others, lobbied vigorously for an indefinite extension of new rules THAT PROTECT OUR KIDS’ PRIVACY RIGHTS set to go into effect on July 1 2013. They failed. No big deal. After all, the Internet Industries predation of US minors between the ages of 14 and 18 is not covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Americans are now enraged after finding out that IT companies share information citizens thought constituted “private property” with US intelligence agencies. Where Americans asleep for the last two decades or was it just more comfortable and convenient to brush off the Patriots screaming DANGER as conspiracy theorists.
For years, fat and happy Americans, willingly seduced by the “World Wide Web” have reflexively permitted publicly traded companies to archive information assumed to be private. Everything we do electronically has been compiled, sorted, stored, and analyzed by the companies we employ to service our on-line purchases, searches, e-mail, texting, tweeting and telecommunications needs. It should come as no surprise that information now used to profile Americans for the government was acquired while information superhighway clearinghouses serviced advertisers’ prospective customer identification needs.
I cannot begin to list the elected officials, the lobbyists, trade groups and associations, and private companies whose profits purchase legislation that not only tramples our Constitutional rights, but also enriches these corporations with our tax dollars. Tax dollars used to develop software and hardware required by the very laws, financed with government grants and subsidies, designed to monitor and document every individual using an electronic device during some form of electronic communication. It would take a lifetime.
Lobbying and campaign contribution records reveal the financial benefits of invading and infringing on US citizens’ fourth amendment privacy protections. Rent seeking information technology companies have a history of lobbying and contributing to elected officials who vote on and enforce legislation supposedly designed to protect Americans privacy and the nation’s security. This history suggests that Americans internet and electronic privacy rights, like everything else in America, are for sale to the highest bidder.
Are you awake yet?