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CISPA Is "Dead for Now," Thanks to a Left-Right Coalition for Online Privacy

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Source: The Nation


A web surfer in silhouette. (AP Photo)

What brings the most seriously libertarian Republican in the US House, Michigan's Justin Amash, together with Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota?

What unites long-time Ronald Reagan aide Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, with liberal firebrand Alan Grayson, D-Florida?

What gets steadily conservative former House Judiciary Committee chair James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, together with progressive former House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan?

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which has for 222 years promised that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

That's an old commitment that members of Congress swear an oath to uphold.

But members of the House on the right and the left have concluded -- correctly -- that it applies to the most modern of technologies.

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Amash and Ellison, Rohrabacher and Grayson, Sensenbrenner and Conyers were among the 127 members of the House (98 Democrats and 29 Republicans) who last week voted against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

Described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as "Digital Big Brother," CISPA is a sweeping proposal to bypass existing privacy law to enable corporations to spy on personal communications and to pass sensitive user data to the government.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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