Congress makes CISA a surveillance bill; leaves net neutrality alone

Dec 20, 2015 11:29 pm
President Obama signed the 2,000-page omnibus budget bill last week that the Republican-led Congress passed and there is good and bad in it for everyone. Moreover, the bill shows how behind-the-scenes action in Washington D.C. gets done, and how lobbyists can be effective in such a gamed system. Privacy advocates spent the years since 2001 trying to win back freedoms the Patriot Act and other expansions of the surveillance state took away. All that work went up in smoke in a back room in Congress last week. The leaders of the House and Senate bargained behind the scenes, picking and choosing the parts of bills that had passed each legislative body, and crafting them into a gigantic Frankenstein bill, with the help of lobbyists, that the President had to sign or the government shuts down. So those legislative leaders rewrote the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, turning a bill that was returning rights to citizens, into legislation that allows the state to peek a little more into your cell phone. Depending on your point-of-view, that's either good news or bad news. It is probably the opposite news that attempts to undercut the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order, or net neutrality, were left out of this spending bill. The courts, though, still have plenty of opportunity to gut that measure to level the internet playing field.