Near as I can tell, this is the 10th “national emergency” declared by the current president. He’s also extended 22 other “national emergencies” declared by his predecessors. And this doesn’t count garden-variety emergencies like floods or tornadoes.
What does the new declaration mean? “The U.S. will now treat foreign hackers and cyberspies like terrorists and nuclear arms dealers,” Politico reports.
The Treasury Department can freeze their assets and bar them from entering the country. The White House statement didn’t say anything about drone attacks. Maybe that’s being saved for later.
Treating hackers like terrorists? It is “broad brush… at the same time, it’s narrow,” said White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel. We’re suspect Mr. Daniel takes himself very seriously.
Bonus points: The measures can be applied against people suspected of attacks that took place months or years ago. Funny, I thought the Constitution forbade ex post facto laws…
Meanwhile, Big Government is colluding with Big Business to shred whatever vestige of online privacy you still retain.
If you have a good memory, you’ll recall in early 2012, Congress was considering something called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. This abomination would have allowed the feds to erase domain names from the Web without due process of law. And it would have been very easy for a website to run afoul of SOPA’s copyright provisions.
SOPA generated a vigorous protest. Sites like Wikipedia and Reddit went dark for a day.
Congress backed off… and got to work right away on a perhaps worse piece of legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA.
Instead of an Internet censorship bill, CISPA was more of an online Patriot Act. As Rep. Ron Paul described it at the time, it would allow companies ranging from Verizon to Facebook “to hand over your private communications to government officials without a warrant, circumventing well-established federal laws like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”
It passed the House, but not the Senate. Bullet dodged. For a while…
Three years later, CISPA is back — spiffed up with a new name, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA.
In theory, CISA’s purpose is to help businesses prevent cyberattacks by sharing information about threats with each other, and with the feds.
In practice, “CISA represents a major new privacy threat to individual citizens,” writes Lee Fang at The Intercept. “It lays the groundwork for corporations to feed massive amounts of communications to private consortiums and the federal government, a scale of cooperation even greater than that revealed by [Edward] Snowden.”
Groups ranging from the ACLU to the Competitive Enterprise Institute agree: The bill creates “yet another loophole for law enforcement to conduct backdoor searches on Americans,” reads a joint statement.
But Corporate America is all on board with CISA. Big Business “sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government,” writes Fang.
The bill also has a provision granting business broad immunity from privacy lawsuits. So don’t expect to have any recourse in the courts, peon.
More than 30 corporations including 3M and Lockheed Martin have declared their support. So have more than 30 industry associations — everyone from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the American Chemistry Council.
CISA passed the Senate Intelligence Committee during a secret session last month with only one dissenting vote — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). Votes in the Senate and House could be only days away.
“Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it,” Fang reports.
“The reversal,” he says, “comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment.”
Yes, JPM servers were breached last summer. It was the biggest hack on a U.S. bank to date. And according to The New York Times, the attack “might have been thwarted if the bank had installed a simple security fix to an overlooked server in its vast network.”
And the Sony hack? “North Korea did it” was immediately broadcasted everywhere even while the story unfolded late last year. Now every sign points to it being an inside job.
If that’s all the president needs to “reverse his past opposition,” how strong was his opposition to begin with?