Beware Big Brother in CISPA

BY GUEST COLUMN | MAY 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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As an Azerbaijani-American and a Turkic-American living in our great country, I write to share my opposition to expanding the government's cybersecurity authorities in ways that violate my First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The House of Representatives has recently passed H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, on a 248-168 vote. Despite the House tweaking the bill with 11 different amendments, the bill still infringes on our citizens' basic rights of privacy and freedom.

There is a want and a need for protection of our "cyber" assets — I understand that. However, security must not cost us our liberties and freedoms.

When the bill comes to vote before the Senate, it is my and my community's humble and sincerest wish that the majority of senators will vote "No." This bill is draconian in the powers it grants private corporations and the data they will have at their disposal without any oversight or accountability. If you haven't already, please take the time to review the bill and see for yourself how dangerous legislation like this can be to our civil liberties and our personal freedoms, which has made our country so great.

I do not like anything that I see in the bill in its current form, but here are some of my biggest concerns: huge expansion of government power, essentially creating a legal channel for spying on its own population; lack of privacy controls (any and all information can and will be disclosed to the "authorities" should the bill pass in its current form); no safeguards that the system this bill would create won't be used and abused by those with the authority to use the powers it grants.

These three points should be carefully considered before any voting. Bills such as this one, and Stop Online Piracy Act before it, make me feel extremely uncomfortable about my own government: Just thinking that somebody might be reading all of my personal communications with my friends or relatives sends shivers up my spine. This reminds me of Soviet Union and Iran, the two countries that divided my historic homeland, Azerbaijan.

Many of my fellow citizens are very concerned, and we will watch to see who votes Yes and who votes No. Azerbaijani-Americans want to make sure the United States continues to be the land of the free and the brave, with liberty and democracy not threatened by Big Brother and mega corporations.

Agshin Taghiyev
Iowa City resident

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