The Congressional Army of Cuties, Nonprofits, and #CISPA

The need to understand the relationship between the Congressional “Army of Cuties,” nonprofits, and #CISPA has never been greater.
They say a picture says a thousand words. What about a thousand pictures with lots of thousands of words? Well, maybe this is not speaking very well, but hopefully this video will provide a good idea of what I will be talking about here:

THE CONGRESSIONAL ARMY OF CUTIES

Now having seen that, and knowing the desire of the U.S. Congress (not to mention certain other countries, but we’ll just focus on the U.S. for now) to attempt to enact stupid laws, like SOPA, PIPA, the laundry list of everything ending in A and having to do with monitoring, censoring, and attempting to control people’s expressions in the digital sphere and controlling the internet generally, knowing full well this desire, it is still obvious that the U.S. Congress is, as a legislative body, so incredibly reactive and far behind the curve on everything that is internet, that even if it accomplishes to create some sort of CISPAesque legislation, it will not be able to control what we do on it, people will simply find a way to circumvent any controls put in place.

That being said, the fundamental problem which is going to be addressed in this post, is not the fact that U.S. Congress is very reactive and behind the times and doesn’t understand the internet and all that. The real thing this post will address, is that there is a relationship that needs to be understood, between THE CONGRESSIONAL ARMY OF CUTIES, NONPROFITS, AND CISPA. And each of these three has been necessary in order for some kind of final, stupid law to succeed in passage, whatever that is. It is the intent in this post to explain this relationship.

First, if some nonprofit entity or person is reading this (and hopefully, eventually, they might) ~ does anyone remember the words of Barlow from ’96, and do they mean anything to anyone anymore? Because it seems like nonprofits today, that supposedly have taken the lead on “fighting for the users,” have really forgotten Barlow’s words and are very much on the verge of becoming cheerleaders for the U.S. Congress Army of Cuties. Here are Barlow’s words…

What should be of interest to people who don’t want to get too much into the gigantic history of all this is that there is often a coalition of centrism of nonprofits, that works together in order to get things done, but in this centrism there lies a certain danger. As a classic example of this I give you the May 14 2012 Coalition Letter to Congress signed onto by at least 33 different organizations, including the @ACLU, @EFF, @CenDemTech, and many others. This letter was designed to express opposition to the SECURE IT Act (one of the many versions of CISPA, actually) ~ but it also served the subtle purpose of expressing a recommendation to Congress that the Cybersecurity Act, S.2105, would be a better alternative than the original CISPA or SECURE IT itself. Read the letter closely. This is not something that nonprofits want to talk about much when they ask for your donations, but they do periodically cheerlead for bad governmental initiatives by recommending the lesser of (however many) evils.

When @CenDemTech came out with its coalition letter relating to SECURE IT and the Cybersecurity Act, there was some discussion about what the position of nonprofits actually was regarding these “cyber laws:”

At minute 13:00 of the Al Jazeera show of May 17, 2012 [Inside Story Americas] @markastan of @CenDemTech said, “Cybersecurity Act more favorable (…) still bad.” We later asked him via twitter if it was more favorable or still bad, though a formal position from @CenDemTech as an organization, expressed on its website, relating to the Act, was not displayed.

If you are thinking at this point nonprofits should take a clear stance (not a wishwashy one) against legislation like the Cybersecurity Act, you’re not alone.

In fact, there is one nonprofit entity, probably more than any other, that tried very hard to alert the public to the presence of what could be known as the “CISPA rule” — the Department of Defense’s plans, which appear to have been successful so far, to implement CISPA (or something that for defense cyber purposes, is close enough) without even having to get Congress to pass CISPA-like law. That nonprofit was @ACLU_Mass.

Were it not for @ACLU_Mass, and for members of the #Anonymous community that tried to alert the public to this “administrative rule,” many in the public would never have known nor had a chance to comment on this very vital issue, occurring completely outside any legislative process and, significantly, before the general public (and the U.S. Congress Army of Cuties, for that matter) even had a chance to work out what sort of law should — or shouldn’t — be adopted.

This led to some significant comments by members of the general public and nonprofits alike on the “CISPA rule,” titled “Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Security/Information Assurance (CS/IA) Activities – Docket ID: DOD-2009-OS-0183” (basically, sounds like pile of boring crap until you realize, it basically means it is big plan to suck data out of you and sell it to whatever private corporate party they feel like whenever you transit any system which government may occupy… whatever that means) which you can see in the rulemaking proceeding online. However, it’s obvious from reading the comments, that the best comments are actually from members of the public. Certain nonprofits actually appear to recommend the CISPA rule as a good piece of rule that could be implemented with a bit of improvement (again, they are just cheerleading for government, not serving the public interest by doing so). The best comments come from members of the general public, who gave the government a piece of their mind. (The opportunity to comment on this particular online proceeding is now closed. Technically you could complain to your Congressperson in the Congressional Army of Cuties but hmmm, isn’t that the same entity that just approved THIS? So yeah, good luck with getting Congress NOT to fund the “intelligence” people behind the CISPA rule, because it already happened, to the tune of 5.6 billion, for “intelligence analysis” dumped in the lap of Your Favorite Corporations.)

The U.S. Congress is STILL an Army of Cuties. Their laws, rules, appropriations, and reactive techniques can STILL be circumvented. It’s not easy. But it is made harder when nonprofits cheer for them and give them a sense of support that they should pass even more restrictive laws and other nonsense. Nonprofit entities should be acting in the public interest, not cheerleading for government whose initiatives are flawed, fundamendtally.

Another recent case in point: @ACLU lobbyist @Richardson_Mich alerts the interwebs to the presence of a “cybersecurity” bill with “much improved privacy protections.” (At the time of this tweet, the bill had not been released to the public.)

Soon thereafter, a blog post is released on the subject of S.3414, the latest bill from the Congressional Army of Cuties.

We tweeted @Richardson_Mich on this issue.

Then came the volley of praise from other nonprofits for the glorious bill, S.3414, and the nonprofit cheerleading for the Congressional Army of Cuties really began. (A few examples follow – there are others.)

“Come on, my men!”

It would be nice if nonprofits would provide a link for people to read this sort of stuff for themselves, I think, when they issue announcements about how great they think it is.

By the way when you go to http://thomas.loc.gov you can see these nasty Congress Army of Cuties proposed laws for yourself and you don’t have to listen to myself or to what the nonprofits have to say. You can just link there, click on the ‘bill number’ button, and then type in S.3414 and search, to find the latest in the large number of things the Cuties want to foist upon the people of the internet world. More nonsense. But read it and you’ll see. (Don’t trust direct links to documents or statements from nonprofits about it, because Congressional Army of Cuties likes to change things frequently and add stuff on at the last minute to trick people while trumpeting about how they are serving you.) At the time of publication of this blog post, guess what, they don’t want you to see it, but they do want to convince you it’s the greatest thing for you to eat.

More cheerleading from nonprofits and some cheerleading from Obama, too. yep! It must be good if Obama wants it to pass.

That article reveals that S.3414 is actually called the Cybersecurity Act. (Even though we cannot yet see the title of it online yet from looking at http://thomas.loc.gov) So, we are looking at a new rehash of what @CenDemTech, @ACLU, @EFF (33 plus organizations) recommended that Congress adopt in lieu of the SECURE IT Act, in their Coalition Letter. Ahhh.. Remember?

UPDATE ADDED AS OF JULY 25, 2012: S.3414 was available IN ITS ENTIRETY earlier today online to the public through the actual legislative source at http://thomas.loc.gov – by clicking on “Bill Number” Button, entering S.3414 in search field, and clicking on Search to see a link to (all) available text. THIS INCLUDED ALL SECTIONS – NOTABLY, SECTION 702 WHICH INCLUDES AND INCORPORATES THE DoD “CISPA RULE” MENTIONED WHEN THIS POST WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON JULY 20, 2012. (Again, CISPA is already in effect, in the form of the Defense Department rule, adopted in an unconstitutional manner ~ this legislation, S.3414, now serves to formalize it and cement Congress’s abdication of its role in this area while effectively delegating legislative authority in the cyber realm through “lawfare” to the military establishment.) AS OF 5:30 PM ON JULY 25, 2012, S.3414 AND ITS RELATED BILLS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC ONLINE AND HAVE HAD THEIR TEXT PULLED BACK (CENSORED FROM PUBLIC VIEW). A vote will be held Friday, July 27, 2012.

UPDATE ADDED AS OF JULY 27, 2012: The full text of S.3414 became available to the public through http://thomas.loc.gov for the first time without censorship or information being withheld from the public. This occurred on July 26, 2012.

On the same day that the proposed legislation was released, and finally after numerous days of online censorship, made available to the public, the Senate held a procedural vote on S.3414 (CSA2012, now the Senate version of CISPA) which is anticipated to be voted on further either July 27, 2012, or more likely, during the week of July 30 – August 3, 2012.

An action area has been developed in reddit under the internetdefenseleague subreddit, for those of you who are redditors and are interested in this: http://redd.it/x7j2e

But government isn’t stopping there, because, you know, so long as the Internet is perceived as a weapon that Congresspeople hate because they can’t connect to it without the help of their secretaries, pages, and interns, guess they may as well try to use the so-called “Cybersecurity” legislation to try to keep you from your SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS UNDER THE U.S. CONSTITUTION TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS as well.

Yep, you read that right. Guess you could say there is a lot to object to in this proposed legislation. Interestingly, there is someone in the cyber industry who seems to feel more or less the same way. We think that Constantine’s article is pretty well written and worth a read. Also, check out Constantine at @CurseYouKhan for some interesting stuff.


Disturbing, wouldn’t you say?

Was going to put another tweet of @CenDemTech’s here, but noticed that they have locked down their twitter profile. Ah, yes. The nonprofit that is “keeping the internet open, innovative, and free.Sure you are!

People, what this should show you is that the relationship, however subtle, between the Congressional Army of Cuties, nonprofits, and CISPA or CISPA-like laws and proposals, is there. It exists, however much people wish it didn’t. In a way it is reminiscent in some respects of the military-industrial complex, even though there are many great and wonderful things that nonprofits are actually doing. Let’s be careful about who we support, when, and why. The Internet Defense League is a great collaboration because it can alert users on a lot of websites to threats to the internet. But people shouldn’t rely on that exclusively to tell them when something is going on, and not rely upon nonprofits and assume they’re doing everything right either. It’s up to you to do your homework and find out what’s going on and come up with interesting ideas, original thought, and make yourself heard. Outnumber the organizations who try to speak for you. Speak up or be spoken for — by nonprofits, by corporations, by others. That’s what the issue is here.

If you want to understand how to circumvent these stupid laws that are being marketed as improvements to our situation but are actually a way for government and companies to incrementally encroach on our ability to readily implement our rights online, if you are serious about the internet, read up on the latest mesh network post in this blog and check out the big blue button on the top of this blog that will help you do things like connect to a mesh network (regardless of what computer or operating system you use) or to do other things that both make our network more secure and decentralized. And to make our internet more free from the Congressional Army of Cuties.

Notesupdate as of August 1, 2012
After significant response from The Internet objecting to cheerleading by nonprofits for various versions of #CISPA, as of August 1, 2012 — quite frankly, with a very late and weak response considering what is at stake — certain nonprofits have begun to use http://www.doyouhaveasecret.org/ as a means to enable members of the public interested in the #CISPA issue to directly object to S.3414. (( The website was released via twitter about 8:30 AM Pacific Standard Time on August 1, 2012, via @textdog and soon thereafter was tweeted out of @fightfortheftr )) The form letter that the http://www.doyouhaveasecret.org/ website encourages users to submit to Congress reads:
“I don’t want to give government agencies access to my emails. Vote no on s.3414 The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, and vote against any anti-privacy amendments to it. Also, vote for the pro-privacy Franken-Paul amendment.” We see this as an improvement on previous courses of action on this, and while it would be good if @EFF, @ACLU, and @CenDemTech use it as well (they haven’t yet, as of about 10:00 AM on August 1st, so #fail), this doesn’t erase the problems that have been created by the relationship of nonprofits to the Congressional Army of Cuties — which have, as this post has revealed, enabled or encouraged Congress to proceed with what is perceived as something that is “acceptable” to “civil society.” We wish that those who are reading this would at this time, read the “#Anonymous Message to U.S. Senators on #CISPA Compromise, S.3414, Police Surplus Military Equipment, More” in pastebin at http://pastebin.com/Rj1H3Yk4 and note that it has 1,095 hits, 77 direct RTs, and growing though it was only created on July 29, 2012. Though messages to Congress (an uncaring entity) are clearly not the solution to our problems (creation of alternate networks is), our communication must be strong. Weak responses to an increasingly unconstitutional police state make society weaker. Be strong, fear not! (Or go home.)

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