Rick Berg Casts A Vote Against Online Privacy


Last night the Republican House, including North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg, voted 248 – 168 to pass the CISPA or Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act.

This was a terrible vote that undermines our online privacy.

The Center for Democracy and Technology has a good summation of the bill here, but essentially this would give the government broad and ill-defined access to online information and upon receiving that information would give the government almost no prohibitions on how it can be used.

Basically, it’s a blank check for Big Government to go on fishing trips through your private online data. What’s more, given how much of our private communications occur online these days (from Facebook messages to email to VOIP calls), this will almost certain lead to more government surveillance of our communications.

It seems to me that if the government wants access to our private online data, they ought to get a warrant, which is what the standard the Constitution sets for this sort of snooping.

This bill was passed with little fanfare, which is unusual because normally the politicians like to tout legislation that supposedly makes us safer. But that lack of fanfare was almost certainly by design. They didn’t want scrutiny of this stinker of a bill, especially not after online activists killed the passage of SOPA (a similarly misguided bill targeting online information) just months ago.

Maybe Rep. Rick Berg figures that, because he represents a more-elderly-than-average state that is often behind the curve when it comes to online technology, he can get away with these sort of votes. But it’s a bad vote for America, whether or not North Dakotans take note.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Paul

    I wrote Rick Berg online and got a response, I believe to be automated. I told him this is “un-American” April 27, 2012 Dear Paul, Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter. 
    Everyday businesses in the United States are targeted by nation-state actors for cyber exploitation and theft which results in the loss of large amounts of valuable intellectual property and sensitive information. This bipartisan legislation will enable cyber threat sharing and provide clear authority for the private sector to defends its own networks, all while providing strong protections for privacy and civil liberties. Cyber threats from nations like China are stealing billions of dollars of information and property, from the government, businesses, and private citizens.
    First and foremost, this legislation is completely voluntary. This legislation allows the intelligence community to share cyber threat information with private businesses and vice versa so that they can better protect against these threats.  This is not about the government obtaining access to personal information; there is nothing in this bill that would promote that.  Instead, the bill is about protecting private information and our nation’s businesses, infrastructure and defense networks from cyber threat.  Further, the bill is completely voluntary. Again, participation by the private sector is voluntary and it is up to the private sector to determine the level of detail of information it shares with the government or other private entities if it chooses to share any information at all.
    CISPA does not contain a single mandate, does not spend a single penny, and it does not violate the Constitution. Some have compared this legislation to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its senate counterpart PIPA. I did not support SOPA and I believe that was a flawed piece of legislation. Unlike SOPA, many businesses such as Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, and AT&T have all come forward and supported CISPA as well. 
    Most recently, the respected, conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation has come out in support of the bill, endorsing its efforts to protect privacy had this to say regarding CISPA legislation. (Emphasis added)
    “CISPA is a sensible and bipartisan bill designed to enhance U.S. cybersecurity efforts by providing private- and public-sector actors with threat information that can help them thwart incoming cyber-attacks. Through various amendments and changes, CISPA has addressed most, if not all, of the privacy concerns leveled against it. Importantly, these changes do not weaken the cybersecurity enhancements that the bill provides. CISPA avoids potentially harmful regulations and uses the innovation and resourcefulness of the private sector to make the nation more secure.”
    As you may know, H.R. 3523 was introduced by Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) on November 20, 2011. With my support, the House passed the bill by a vote of 248-168. 
    Again, thank you for contacting me on this very important issue. It is an honor to represent North Dakota in Congress, and I never forget that I work for you and the people of our great state. If you have any additional thoughts or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my Fargo, Bismarck, Minot or Washington, D.C. office.
    Receive E-Mail Updates:www.berg.house.gov
    Stay Connected: www.facebook.com/reprickberg

    Rick Berg
    Member of Congress

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Evans/1538949637 Matt Evans

    Glad to see that Rep Amash voted no.  Surprised that Paul didn’t vote.  It seems to me like if you vote against reps Paul and Amash, you voted the wrong way. 

    Berg’s voting record has been bad on civil liberties thus far.  A disappointment. 

    The CISPA bill had some late amendments that made it much worse.  A few respectable folks (Dan Kaminsky for one) came out in support of some of the provisions in CISPA and even the basic idea, but the new powers and wording in some of the amendments are just too vague.

  • Jay

    Let’s hope the Republicans in the Senate can filibuster this to keep it from becoming law. I’m not sanguine about that though.

  • ladyknownaslou

    The “conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation” doesn’t always get it right.  They also saw no threat to liberty in the infamous 2012 NDAA (again, for which Berg voted).  Step by measured step we are marching toward a totalitarian dictatorship or oligarchy which will utilize our fears and weakness to impose complete oppression on us.  Just one more reason why we SHOULD NOT SEND RICK BERG TO THE SENATE!  Rob, I hope you’re listening.  Quit bashing Duane Sand for giving Berg much needed competiton.  We need more Sand’s – not more Berg’s – in the US Senate.  Let us not waste a golden opportunity.  We have an OPEN SEAT with NO – that is right  – NO INCUMBENT.  These candidates are on equal footing in that regard – two private citizens who seek public office.  One a left-leaning neocon who looks to think tanks like the Heritage Foundation for his orders and the other who looks to his own judgment and the Constitution for his decisions.  Let’s just get it over with – go with Duane Sand this time.

    • Jay

      The GOP went with Duane Sand three times before. He was so busy stroking his own ego he forgot to run an effective campaign. He’s aligning himself with the lefties on the franking issue to try to take Berg down. Sorry, but Republicans need someone with less of a sense of self-importance in that race. Sand is not that man.

    • Camsaure

      I agree, we gave Berg a chance and he has squandered that chance too many times now. It is time to give Sand his chance. If he too proves to be an unprincipled RINO like Berg has, we can boot his butt out too. This should be done with Berg now before he becomes too entrenched in the beltway.

  • sbark

    hmmm……Could it be the  ave joe Politician looks at that as a trade off for the subsidies to the Internet world and bloghosphere in general?  Especially if he has RINO blood in his viens to begin with?

    Rural internet is heavily subsidized,  Rural Telephone and thus their internet service is subsidized to the point of literal existence,  School and Education Internet is subsidized,   Google–the world largest user of bandwidth in a 2008 study got 6.8 billion worth free, Libraries Internet is subsidized,   we hear of free Cell phones to the “poor”–can presume with data paks.

    …..Could it be we have Internet “obesity”, blogosphere “obesity”………

    Whenever Govt throws money at something……..its pretty safe to assume they will want something back……….No diff. than food production with their control over exports, EPA intrustions, Animal Rights, Enviro radicals……

    A bigger, ever growing Govt will always want something in return when they throw cash at it—-

  • Ndexault

    I think Duane Sand has learned his lesson and is serious about his campaign.  I will be voting for Sand.

  • Paul

    Here is what the Center for Democracy and Technology is saying about the passage of this bill:


    Washington – CDT is disappointed that CISPA passed the House in such flawed form and
    under such a flawed process.We worked very hard in cooperation with the
    Intelligence Committee to develop amendments to narrow some of the bill’s
    definitions and to limit its scope. We are very pleased that those amendments
    were adopted, leaving the bill better for privacy and civil liberties than it
    was going into the process.However, we are also disappointed that House
    leadership chose to block amendments on two core issues we had long identified –
    the flow of information from the private sector directly to NSA and the use of that
    information for national security purposes unrelated to cybersecurity. Reps. Thompson, Schakowsky, and Lofgren wrote amendments to
    address those issues, but the leadership did not allow votes on those
    amendments. Such momentous issues deserved a vote of the full House. We intend
    to press these issues when the Senate takes up its cybersecurity legislation. We
    will continue to work to oppose any cybersecurity legislation that does not
    also protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.

  • Ratbite

    Berg/Conrad can anybody tell me the difference other than one has an “R” behind his name & a real residence in North Dakota?? Thank you ND Republican Party for another RINO!!!

  • banjo kid

    Snow jobs are prevalent in the senate and the congress.  Herod Brown as I call him is a puppet twiddled by Obama(Sherrod).   strings are pulled and things get passed . I think he will be idled in the up coming election . I certainly will be doing all I can to make sure that happens.

  • http://www.kavakona.com/ Kava Kava Root

    Why vote against it?

  • Scumberg