The CISPA circus: Send in the clowns

Watching a clueless Congress attempting to pass a cyber security bill would be entertaining if the stakes weren't so high

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is halfway toward becoming law after the House passed the bill by a vote of 288 to 127 yesterday, rejecting several amendments that would have limited the amount of personal information private companies could share with Uncle Sam.

Hey, no big deal, right? In February, CISPA's primary author Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich) shared his views on why CISPA is no threat to personal privacy:

We're talking about exchanging packets of information, zeroes and ones, if you will, one hundred millions times a second. So some notion that this is a horrible invasion of content reading is wrong. It is not even close to that.

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With such tech-savvy elected officials regulating our InterPipes, we clearly have nothing to worry about. It didn't get any better during this week's "debate" over the bill. Drawing an unfortunate parallel to this week's tragic events, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) proclaimed:

In the case of Boston they were real bombs, in this case they're digital bombs. And these digital bombs are on their way.

Remember that scene in "Live Free or Die Hard" where the evil computer genius sends a virus to a hacker's computer that actually makes the machine explode? Apparently Congressman McCaul has seen that movie too many times.

Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich) "painted a dire picture of North Korean hackers taking down the U.S. power grid," according to the Verge, and said Congress would be violating the Constitution if it didn't pass CISPA. That's it -- I'm now unfriending Kim Jong-un on Facebook.

Bipartisan boneheads

It's not just Republicans. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-New York) wants to use CISPA to battle sites like WikiLeaks, which he believes is "taking very aggressive measures to hack into" U.S. computer networks. Somehow, he has uncovered Julian Assange's fiendish plot to take control of our nation's supply of hair products.

How do these people get elected? We'd do better by sending chimpanzees to the polls every two years and having them randomly fill out ballots.

The bill now moves from the House to the Senate, which is a bit like going from a Keystone Kops movie to Monty Python's Twit of the Year contest. The Senate rejected CISPA last year, but after its shameful performance this week, anything is possible. (You are of course free to disagree in the comments below, but please check your firearms at the door.)

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