"More than machinery, we need humanity."
An electronic cheer spread across the Internet yesterday afternoon after Jacob Koebler (writing for US News) posted a story with the unambiguous title: “ACLU: CISPA Is Dead (For Now).”
It is no surprise that the title of the article gave rise to many a celebratory tweet, after all, this was the ACLU saying CISPA had been defeated (the its “dead” quote is attributed to Michelle Richardson of the ACLU), and it would be unlikely that the ACLU (which has been one of the groups at the forefront of opposition to CISPA) would make such a claim without believing that the bill was really no longer a huge concern.
The case that the article lays out for the “death” of CISPA is simple: the senate isn’t going to bring it up for debate, and as a result the bill won’t go anywhere. So this time it is actually rather good that the US Senate can’t seem to get anything done. Furthermore, President Obama had maintained his threat to veto the bill, which likely gave the Senate further reason to think that it wasn’t worth debating the bill.
Yet, what matters in the article title is not “CISPA is Dead.” That’s a good thing, it surely is, but keep in mind that CISPA is already a zombie bill. It had been defeated and then it rose from the dead to pass the House (again), at which point it was defeated (again). And now we just need to wait a few months before we’re posting Stop CISPA or CISPA Blackout or something else about the newest threat to our privacy. Yes, what matters is the “For Now” part of the title.
SOPA, CISPA, CISPA again, Next acronym, Next acronym, etc…
What the failure of CISPA demonstrates, alas, is not the “strength of our movement” or the collective power of thousands of tweets, but the strength of financially motivated and privacy threatening legislation to survive defeat after defeat only to come back in a slightly different form and come up for passage again.
Yesterday, I posted about Representative Bob Goodlatte’s proposal for a review of copyright law, arguing that such a move could be an easy cover for pushing elements of SOPA and CISPA like policies in with other bills, and after reading the reports of CISPA’s death I feel more concerned not less so.
At this point it should be very obvious to all of us that there are many powerful forces that want to see SOPA/CISPA/Whatever you want to call it passed, and though they may be losing these skirmishes they don’t seem too concerned about what the final outcome of the battle will be. Bills like CISPA and SOPA, which lead to broad negative reactions, simply teach those pushing these bills that they need to include some more flowery language about “protecting privacy” or “Internet freedom” if they want the bills to pass. Likewise they teach the sponsoring legislators that perhaps it is wiser to simply break up the bill and attach its least popular measures to legislation that is bound to pass. CISPA will return hiding behind a new acronym and we’ll do this again…and then again.
Like the chainsaw wielding maniac in a horror franchise: “CISPA is dead (for now).” But it will rise again, be assured of that.
And the sequel is usually worse than the original.