Wednesday 18 April 2012

CISPA and Journalism

18 April 2012
This is not about photography, per se..but the CISPA bill will effect us all and if any of you out there want to be a photojournalist then your ability to "report" will become more and more limited.  You will loose your "freedom" to create documentary photography stories that you may want to create.  Your work will become limited.  I remember when I was working during the Bush administration, covering the conflict in the Middle East, I could not publish many realities in American news outlets.  We could not publish images of American soldier coffins with flags,  no one would purchase photo stories about the defense contractors in Iraq, or the gas lines.  My images and stories were published all over the world, except for in America.  I became black listed for such behind the scene stories.  I was relieved when Obama took office, and I would have the ability to tell the American people and survive, behind the scene stories once again.  Well folks, CISPA will change all that, and more forever...and it could get much worse.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is a bill that would allow companies doing business in the US to collect records of American citizens online activities, worldwide.  This includes all American journalists, photographers, investigative journalists, news agencies, associations, You Tube and bloggers.  This is a bill in my opinion, is very serious indeed. 

It was developed to help stop "cybersecurity threats" and for "cybersecurity purposes"  The bill is weak in definition, and it does not narrow the categories that the companies are to report to the American government.  This leaves the door open to any kind of interpretation, censor any speech that a company believes could "downgrade the network."  It is supposed to "protect theft or misappropriation of private or government information."  This includes intellectual property.  This gives a powerful weapon to close websites that provide important information to the American public and to the world.  The New York Times, could face problems with this bill because they published information from WikiLeaks.  They could censor international sites from American view who has information that the government does not want the American people to know about.

It reminds me of the European history pre-WWII, or the American Japanese scare and arrests on American soil.  I don't want to be forced to "wear a star" so others can identity me as a "cyber terrorist", or a "propaganda terrorists", (a new term that I read about lately, more on that later) and an American enemy, because I am writing this article.  As far as I am concerned this is the next step towards Fascism, by controlling the people, controlling the media and inserting fear that you may just get arrested the next time you cross over into American borders. 

How does the CISPA effect journalists? 
The bill disregards our Fourth Amendment rights as they apply to journalists and documentary filmmakers working on subject matter related to US military operations, foreign policy and other subjects that the Homeland Security finds offensive. 

Wait, what does homeland security have to do with CISPA the "internet eye in the sky?"  It has everything to do with it, when a person writes "keywords" that are a concern to American homeland security, that person is added to a "Homeland Security watch list" and if that person is researching, investigating, photographing, filmmaking on any of these subjects, then they will be added onto this list.  When someone is on the list, then the government, Homeland Security will have the right to arrest, question, or detain that person without any explanation, rights to make a phone call, for any amount of time and without any legal representation.  Now that is a hard call and a scary one.

The fourth amendment reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Is not the passing of CISPA creating the legal ability for the government (what ever branch) to follow citizens actions, opinions, online published papers, published articles, images, or emails and conversations using the written word or even voiced such as on Skype or Google, against the fourth amendment?  This action will Kill the Forth Amendment. 

In the end, it boils down to who is reading the key words and what kind of mood they are in that day if they report you or not. If anyone in the corporation feels that the citizen in this case, journalist, is approaching information that concerns the said "national interest, sensitive, secret or protected from disclosure then that information," journalist will be considered a "threat".  Remember it is the government or "homeland security" that can distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure not the companies.

CISPA puts the companies into the position of becoming "informers" with the promise of shielding them from any legal responsibility.  The government and these companies, (see supporters of CISPA list) tell the citizens that the law protects the populations and tech companies from cyber attacks.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers"

That freedom was suppressed in Germany by President Paul Von Hindenburg, as Adolf Hitler was coming into power.  Hitler suppressed press freedom through the Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda where which the government acted as a central point for all media, issuing orders as to what stories could or could not be told. In this way, important realities were kept from the citizens and the journalists did not have a choice to take action in fear of execution. 

This bill instills increased fear among the American people.  I always hear people say, "Well, I'm not doing anything wrong, they can do what they want.  I have nothing to hide."  Wait a minute, does this mean because you are a "good person" that you will watch our civil rights drift away?  What happens when you become really angry about what can most likely happen in America's future when our freedoms are really gone and you want to say something or do something about it, like create a petition?  If the CISPA bill passes, you will be faced with the fear regarding, your postings on Facebook, web searches, sending emails, writing blog posts, any communication online...for fear that someone could "come knocking" on your door.  This has already happened to over 50,000 American citizens, and some of them have quietly been deported.

If "they" don't like what you are doing, they will have the right to: shut you down, your website, your blog, your business, and your existence.

Reporters Without Borders put it this way, "The definition of potential threats is even broader. It targets ‘‘efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy” a system or network, the “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information”.  CISPA in its current form is written in broad scope.  The information that the companies share is not narrow and limited.  Information sharing should be about increasing Internet users' security, not government surveillance.

Related Articles:
Stop the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act

CISPA Supporters List

True America: Where Lies Become the Truth
Procedures for handling Assemblies and Mass Demonstrations in D.C. 

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