An onrush of condemnation and criticism kept the SOPA and PIPA acts from passing earlier this year, but US lawmakers have already authored another authoritarian bill that could give them free reign to creep the Web in the name of cybersecurity.
As congressmen in Washington consider how to handle the ongoing issue of cyberattacks, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of anyone of their choosing.
H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short), has been created under the guise of being a necessary implement in America’s war against cyberattacks. But the vague verbiage contained within the pages of the paper could allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private parties.
On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and the Interior Ministry were forced to defend a sweeping wiretapping proposal, which would aim to monitor every single email, text message, and phone call flowing through the whole country. The proposal would likely force all UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install “black boxes” on their systems that use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, which would give authorities access to all communications data without a warrant or any judicial oversight.
Law enforcement would have access to IP addresses, email addresses, when you send an email, to whom you send it, and how frequently—as well as corresponding data for phone calls and text messages. The government has claimed this proposal is needed to fight “terrorism and serious crimes,” but of course, it would be available to law enforcement for all purposes.
As the Washington Post reported, many privacy advocates in the UK say, “the move would intrude so deeply into the lives of British citizens that it would rival or exceed measures used by totalitarian governments.” While there’s still no public draft of the proposal, the government insists that law enforcement will not have access to the content of communications; however, retaining allother identifying information can easily reveal vast troves of information about a user’s private life. Mathematician and security researcher George Danezis explains:
Basically you can think of blanket traffic data retention and access as having a policeman following you around 24h a day / 7 days a week, and making notes about where you have been, what you have looked at, who you are talking to, what you are doing, where you are sleeping (and with whom), everything you bought, every political and trade union meeting you went to, … – but not actually hearing any of the conversation or seeing what you wrote. Traffic data provide an X-ray of your whole life, and the policy suggests they should be available to law enforcement and the intelligence services without any judicial oversight (only political review or police oversight).
Unfortunately for the UK government, a lot of popular email and social media services, like Google and Facebook, use SSL encryption to protect their users’ data, so the government may not be able to access the information through DPI. Under this proposal however, Google and Facebook would be forced to comply with every data request.
Just got this in an email
In just a few hours, new policies will take effect at Google, endangering your privacy.
Tech publication Gizmodo reports, “things you could do in relative anonymity today [like your web searches], will be explicitly associated with your name, your face, your phone number come March 1st.” And this applies retro-actively if you don’t act today.
sharing with my followers because your privacy matters! They had searches from 2008…even showed which pages of which Google Books I viewed and when…spooky.