Rep. Rogers: 'Opponents To CISPA Are 14-Year-Olds'

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said Tuesday that most opponents to his controversial cyber-security bill are teenagers in their basements as the Obama administration threatened to veto the measure for its potential to violate civil liberties.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said Tuesday that most opponents to his controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) are teenagers in their basements as the Obama administration threatened to veto the measure for its potential to violate civil liberties.

"People on the Internet -- if you're, you know, a 14-year-old tweeter in your basement … I took my nephew, I had to work with him a lot on this bill because he didn't understand the mechanics of it," Rogers continued. "I hear that a lot. Once you understand the threat and you understand the mechanics of how it works and you understand that people are not monitoring your content of your emails, most people go, 'got it.'"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, reflected concerns shared by the White House and many civil liberties groups, arguing that the bill did not do enough to ensure that companies, in sharing cyber threat data with the government and each other, strip out any personal data of private citizens.

"They can just ship the whole kit and caboodle and we're saying minimize what is relevant to our national security," the Democrat said. "The rest is none of the government's business."

Rogers stressed that his bill doesn’t extend any extra surveillance powers to the federal government, despite condemnation from critics that say exactly that. “It does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector,” he said. Rather, he called it "a critical bipartisan first step for enabling American’s private sector to defend itself" and "improves cybersecurity without compromising our civil liberties."

“We have yet to find a single United States company that opposes this bill,” said Rep. Rogers.

But companies do in fact oppose CISPA. Facebook rescinded their support of the act, according to Cnet’s Declan McCullagh, because a spokesperson for the social media site says they prefer a legislative "balance" that ensures "the privacy of our users.” Facebook made the decision to rescind their support for the legislation after facing pressure from Demand Progress, the Internet freedom advocacy group founded by Aaron Swartz.

Silicon Valley’s Mozilla Corporation publicly denounced CISPA last May:

“While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security,” reads the statement. “The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.”

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Republican Liberty Caucus raised privacy alarms. CISPA would "waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity," Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and onetime Web entrepreneur, warned during a House of Representatives debate.

Reporters Without Borders, sent a letter (PDF) to Congress last month opposing CISPA. It says: "CISPA's information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of e-mails, to any agency in the government."

A Sunlight Foundation report recently revealed that interest groups in support of the bill spent $605m from 2011 to the third quarter of 2012 -- 140 times as much lobbying Congress as those on the other side of the debate, who spent $4.3m.

The Senate, however, may not vote on CISPA at all:

The discussion now shifts to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which appears unlikely to act on the legislation in the wake of a presidential veto threat earlier this week, and an executive order in January that may reduce the need for new legislation. Today's House vote, on the other hand, could increase pressure on the Senate to enact some sort of legislation.

Sen. John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who was involved in last year's cybersecurity debate, said after today's vote that "CISPA's privacy protections are insufficient." Still, Rockefeller said, "I believe we can gain bipartisan agreement on bills that we can report out of our committees and allow [Majority Leader Harry Reid] to bring them to the Senate floor as early as possible."

This would be a "tragic" blow to the TeleComs and their lobbyists, as well as Mrs. Mike Rogers who I'm sure it's just a big coincidence stands to benefit a great deal from the passing of the bill championed by Mr. Mike Rogers:

It has seemed quite strange to see how strongly Rogers has been fighting for CISPA, refusing to even acknowledge the seriousness of the privacy concerns. At other times, he can't even keep his own story straight about whether or not CISPA is about giving information to the NSA (hint: it is). And then there was the recent ridiculousness with him insisting that the only opposition to CISPA came from 14-year-old kids in their basement. Wrong and insulting.

Of course, as we've noted all along, all attempts at cybersecurity legislation have always been about money. Mainly, money to big defense contractors aiming to provide the government with lots of very expensive "solutions" to the cybersecurity "problem" -- a problem that still has not been adequately defined beyond fake scare stories. Just last month, Rogers accidentally tweeted (and then deleted) a story about how CISPA supporters, like himself, had received 15 times more money from pro-CISPA group that the opposition had received from anti-CISPA groups.

So it seems rather interesting to note that Rogers' wife, Kristi Clemens Rogers, was, until recently, the president and CEO of Aegis LLC a "security" defense contractor company, whom she helped to secure a $10 billion (with a b) contract with the State Department. The company describes itself as "a leading private security company, provides government and corporate clients with a full spectrum of intelligence-led, culturally-sensitive security solutions to operational and development challenges around the world."

And what does Kristi Rogers do now that she is no longer with Aegis LLC? Why, now she's the "managing director of federal government affairs and public policies" at Manatt, a big lobbying firm, where she's apparently focused on "executive-level problem solving in the defense and homeland security sectors."

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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