Rick Berg Casts A Vote Against Online Privacy

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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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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