Obama Knows the Constitution: CISPA Violates 4th Amendment

By Evelyn Castillo-Bach, aka Privacy Mom ... ...
April 26, 2012 ... ...

President Obama taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago from 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, serving as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. This background is relevant today as Obama decides whether he should veto CISPA -- Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523) . Many media reports indicate that the President will confer with advisers to guide him on this issue. But I don't understand why Obama needs to confer with advisers. He knows how to read, and he has certainly read the 4th Amendment which states:

"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."

As Obama well knows, the 4th Amendment applies only to the government, not to private entities like corporations. CISPA constitutes a clever but obvious attempt to circumvent the privacy rights enshrined in the U.S. constitution by legally sanctioning companies to track or spy on Americans and share what they know with the government.

Experts in cybersecurity and privacy advocacy groups have pointed out that CISPA allows corporations to hand over vast amounts of data -- including sensitive information like internet use history, content of emails, and communication within social networks -- to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command.

One section of CISPA says that "notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share information with Homeland Security, the IRS, or the National Security Agency. By including the word "notwithstanding," CISPA's drafters intended to make their legislation trump all existing federal and state laws, including ones dealing with wiretaps, educational records, medical privacy, and all other personal records.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has noted that the legislative language of "notwithstanding any other provision of law" tends to imply that the new language in a law is intended to supersede any conflicting provisions of previous law. In other words, CISPA will override the privacy protections guaranteed under the 4th Amendment. To date, not one of the amendments cleared by the House Rules committee has change this language. CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

While cyber attacks against the United States and corporations by bad global actors is a real threat, CISPA constitutes a false solution to a real problem. Spying on all Americans and all world citizens who use digital communication violates our core human right to privacy and violates our 4th Amendment.

President Obama certainly has the intelligence and scholastic training to understand that instituting a corporate-led spy regime, sanctioned by U.S. law, is inconsistent with our values and history. He should veto CISPA and any laws that trade away our right to privacy in exchange for cyber security. We won't be safer or feel safer by allowing corporations to spy on our communication, reporting what we say or think to governments. CISPA gets worse. It protects corporations from legal liability for wrongfully identifying a person as a threat. Furthermore, CISPA allows government agencies to use any information they obtain to launch investigations and prosecution against any person based on information received from a corporation, even if the information harvested has nothing to do with cyber security.

We all get it that spying on everyone makes it easy for law enforcement to catch potential criminals. But this is not the American way of confronting criminality. To allow CISPA or laws like it to pass constitutes the establishment of a Big Brother corporate-police state. What's next? Should we legalize surveillance within everyone's home so we can see who is most likely to present a threat? That is the logical next step.
Company Information:
UmeNow is a private "people's network" that has banned all tracking and all ads. UmeNow has a 2-tier membership structure. It promises the same privacy protection to its free members. Premium level members who subscribe for $6.00/ month have access to all site areas.

Evelyn Castillo-Bach is the founder of UmeNow and Collegiate Nation. She is known to her followers as Privacy Mom. UmeNow entered into its silent launch in July 2011. Collegiate Nation--also known as - is the first and only private network exclusively for college students. Castillo-Bach was interviewed earlier this year by Miami television to address privacy issues impacting college students.

Both UmeNow and Collegiate Nation are known for fiercely protecting the privacy rights of its members. All ads, third party apps and games are banned because they are back doors to tracking and extracting private information. Castillo-Bach earned her M.S. in 1993 from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has traveled extensively in Ethiopia and in the Balkans, accompanying her Danish husband who is a lawyer.

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