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April 27, 2013

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

By John Nichols

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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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.

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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Submitters Bio:

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.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas's "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of the upcoming book The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), as well as a critically-acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press) and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: "At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift--a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history--that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country."

With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation's media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.

Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."

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