U.S. legislators pull another 'Patriot Act,' quietly pass new surveillance law opposed by American voters
by: J. D. Heyes
Following revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the federal government was scooping up terabytes of data on American citizens without their knowledge and often without a court order, Americans were outraged and let Congress know it.
Under provisions in the Patriot Act of 2001, the Bush and Obama Administrations used the threat of terrorism as the impetus to spy on Americans with impunity, though the Constitution's Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits such unauthorized mass surveillance.
As a result, beginning in 2014, efforts were made to replace the Patriot Act with similar, but ostensibly more restrictive, legislation that congressional leaders and the White House attempted to sell as a balance between the Constitution and the federal government's legitimate duty to protect the country.
That legislation, known as CISA – the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act – was initially panned by electronic privacy advocates as a bill that essentially mimicked the worst spying provisions of the Patriot Act.
This is not what most Americans want
We reported at the time:
The Senate is set to vote on a cybersecurity measure that critics say will dwarf previous efforts by government to gather electronic information on all Americans without first obtaining a court-issued warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment.
Even worse, we noted, major telecom and technology companies like Google, Facebook and AT&T actually supported the measure.
Opposition to CISA grew throughout last year and as such it was eventually abandoned by Congress.
However, as reported by CyberWar.news, the legislation was resurrected in 2015, quietly passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in December.
The measure is "aimed at ramping up cooperation between private tech firms and the federal government to ward of[f] threats, but critics think it just created a new opportunity for expanding government spying," CyberWar.news noted.
The law essentially adds insult to injury as far as the American people go. It was signed as part of a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package that adds hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt, while once again treating the Fourth Amendment's privacy protections as though they were suggestions rather than the law of the land.
2016 going to be a tumultuous year
So bad was CISA for privacy that the Electronic Freedom Foundation launched a petition campaign in an attempt to convince lawmakers opposition to the measure was widespread.
"The bill would grant companies more power to obtain 'threat' information (for example, from private communications of users) and disclose that data to the government without a warrant—including sending data to the National Security Agency. It also gives companies broad immunity to spy on—and even launch countermeasures against—potentially innocent users," the petition noted.
But it didn't work. Official Washington knows best, you see, so the consent of the governed, the Constitution, the rule of law – none of that matters to the powers that be. Violating the spirit and letter of our Bill of Rights is for our own good, apparently.
As the Christian Science Monitor reported, CISA actually shields private firms from lawsuits and other legal action, essentially giving them permission to work in tandem with the government to violate Americans' rights.
The online paper reported that CISA "give[s] liability protection to companies that share cyberthreat information with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including details on data on breaches, phishing attacks, and malware downloads. The law also calls upon DHS to automate data sharing with other federal government agencies and scrub any personal information included that's not relevant to cybersecurity."
Once again, the federal government has used the threat of terrorism as an excuse to violate Americans' basic constitutional protections, and as has generally been the case, Congress – the people's "representatives" – has been complicit.
As Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, wrote recently, "2016 is already shaping up to be a tumultuous year across the globe."
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/052542_Cybersecurity_Information_Sharing_Act_United_States_Congress_USA_Patriot.html#ixzz3wYjrv3bp