"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
CISPA: Should We Care?
Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
Yet again the puppet masters have gotten all the puppets jumping about in a frenzy. It makes me wonder whether there is actually reason to get exercised about this bill.
Certainly, the notion that the U.S. government will protect the Internet from attacks is absurd, given that the source of all the most serious attacks (of which CISPA is yet another example) is that very same U.S. government.
But really, why should we care?
First, isn’t it pretty clear they are already using surveillance on the Internet as much as they please, whether they are authorized to do so or not? It would be pretty naive to imagine agents of this lawless government would actually obey the law or fear the consequences of ignoring it. If an FBI man shows up on the doorstep of your ISP and asks to see logs or put a device on a server, what do you think is going to happen? A valiant, strenuous defense of your privacy? Don’t make me laugh.
Second, isn’t the fix for this problem a technical one? Just get yourself set up to use a VPN server for your browsing and email, make sure the company headquarters is located offshore and the servers you use are offshore also, and then it doesn’t matter if you do a search for cookie recipes or nuclear bomb recipes--the government will not be able to figure out your encrypted traffic. My VPN service costs $5 a month, not too much to pay for privacy. “Freedom isn’t free...”
What makes more sense? Lobbying for a government solution (e.g. killing CISPA, until they bring up the next incarnation) even though that won’t deter the snoops in any case? Or setting up VPN?
Yes, it is slower and I don’t use it all the time. But if I used a Canadian server, it probably wouldn’t be much of a slowdown at all (although not as private either, since the Canadian government is a lapdog of the U.S. government).
We can be certain that any non-governmental bad guys seeking to attack the Internet are going to be using VPN or TOR or Enigmail or Hushmail for communication (thus making CISPA entirely worthless, even in a theoretical sense). If they are, shouldn’t you be too?
Third, do we really care if they monitor and store all our traffic? They still need expensive human beings to really sort through it all. Anyway, it’s one thing to get the goods on somebody, another thing entirely to act on it. Can you imagine how many people are on the Internet, every day saying “the government sucks”? No, you’re not the only one. They already know who all the anarchists are. It doesn’t matter until the government tries to round them all up; when that happens, we will be in our Revolution, a completely new ball game.
Get VPN, or set up TOR; use them now and then to stay in practice and to poke the snoops in the eye, and get on with your life. Don’t let the puppet masters keep you jumping.
Do let me know if I’m wrong about this...