CISPA, or the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act, passed the House yesterday. The bill is full of problematic intrusions into individual privacy and online liberty, and yet those members of the House who associate themselves with limited government were largely responsible for its passage.
“The complete roll call shows 206 Republicans voting for the bill, 28 against,” writes reason’s Tim Cavanaugh. “Democrats went 42 to 140 in the opposite direction.”
Of these Republicans, “47 of the 66 members of the House Tea Party Caucus” also supported the bill, notes Patrick Cahalan.
“For those tricky with the math,” Cahalan continues, “this means 88% of the overall GOP members (casting a vote) voted yea, 23% of the Dems (casting a vote) voted yea, and 71% of the Tea Party (casting a vote) voted yea (Paul and Pence didn’t cast a vote).”
Worse still, the bill underwent some last minute changes, which may have made CISPA even worse than in previous iterations.
TechDirt’s Leigh Breadon points out that under the final version of CISPA the, “government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all.”
One important thing to glean from this, especially when held up in contrast with the defeat of SOPA and PIPA, two bills aimed at combating online piracy, is that once you tack the word “security” onto a bill it becomes far more toxic to oppose.
The Tea Party may be the small government wing of the Republican Party, but when it comes to national security suddenly limiting the state becomes far less critical. If SOPA had been billed as a cybersecurity law, it may have found a great deal more support in congress, and had a better time resisting internet backlash. For opponents of anti-piracy laws, this is an important thing to bear in mind.