CISPA Amendment Allows DHS to Intercept Tax Returns
An amendment introduced to the controversial CISPA bill by perennial big government advocate Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee would empower the Department of Homeland Security to intercept online IRS tax returns and any other Internet traffic deemed to transit networks owned by the federal government or operated on its behalf.
“Jackson Lee’s amendment (PDF) is broad enough to sweep in government contractors and university networks such as Internet2 and CENIC, said a telecommunications attorney who did not want to be identified because of client sensitivity. It also appears to cover open Wi-Fi networks run by federal agencies and networks in government-provided housing,” reports CNet’s Declan McCullagh.
Not only would the amendment give Big Sis the power to monitor all government networks, it could also, according to McCullagh and Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “allow Homeland Security to monitor the communications of the federal courts and Congress, and intercept tax returns sent to the IRS.”
Given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has already identified all kinds of mundane behavior as “suspicious activity” possibly indicative of terrorism, the prospect of the federal agency trawling through Americans’ 1040 forms is nothing less than chilling.
The CISPA bill has already come under attack from all sides of the political spectrum because it states that “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share information with the government, demolishing fourth amendment privacy protections.
Earlier this week Congressman Ron Paul slammed the legislation as a “Big Brother writ,” writing, “CISPA is essentially an Internet monitoring bill that permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided, of course, that they do so in the name of cyber security.”
Targeting Americans for spying and punitive measures through their relationship with the IRS has been a common theme in recent weeks, with a separate bill, the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’ (MAP-21), giving the IRS the power to revoke passports of Americans merely accused of owing $50,000 or more in back taxes.
Texas Democrat Jackson Lee has aggressively pushed for extra powers for the DHS on a number of different fronts, most recently when she promoted a program that places TSA agents on Houston buses as undercover spies tasked with interrogating passengers and searching bags.
Jackson-Lee also savaged a newly passed law that enables airports to evict TSA screeners and replace them with private security, ludicrously claiming that such changes would cause a new 9/11-style attack.
Jackson-Lee’s amendment will be debated during a House floor hearing tomorrow, with the full CISPA bill expected to face a vote on Friday amidst a crescendo of vocal opposition.