Presidential candidate Ron Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas, has emerged as the leading opponent of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), widely billed as a follow-up to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a controversial set of Internet regulations killed earlier this year by an online mass work stoppage protest.
In a video released Monday morning, Paul called CISPA "an Internet monitoring bill" that would enable the government and corporations to review citizens' private communications without any judicial oversight.
The bill proposes an information sharing scheme between the National Security Agency (NSA) and corporate networks under the auspice of cyber security, and defines "cyber threat intelligence" to include details pertaining to the "theft or misappropriation" of "intellectual property."
CISPA currently enjoys a broad base of support among some of the same companies that opposed SOPA, including Google and Facebook. The bill is expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives later this week despite strong opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Constitution Project, Fight for the Future and others.
Joining the bill's opposition on Monday, Paul warned that CISPA "represents an alarming form of corporatism, as it further intertwines government with companies like Google and Facebook."
"It permits them to hand over your private information to government officials without a warrant, circumventing well known federal laws like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, " he said. "It also grants a broad immunity from lawsuits for doing so, leaving you without recourse for invasion of privacy."
"Simply put, CISPA encourages some of our most successful Internet companies to act as government spies, sewing distrust in social media and chilling communications in one segment of the world economy where Americans still lead," Paul added. "...If you believe in privacy and free markets, you should be deeply concerned about the proposed marriage of government intelligence gathering with private, profit-seeking companies."
President Barack Obama has not yet commented on CISPA, but a National Security Council spokesperson said last week that he might not sign it without significant alterations that safeguard privacy rights. The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), has said he's confident that it will pass.
Paul has had very little success in coalition building in his years as a congressman save but for a popular campaign to audit the Federal Reserve, so it's not immediately clear whether his opposition to CISPA will marshal much support among fellow Republicans, who were seen as key to killing SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate.
The libertarian-leaning congressman is still in the Republican presidential race, but has fallen so far behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) that many believe it would be impossible to catch up at this point. He's promised to stay in the race because he believes that Romney could yet "stumble" before the Republican convention this August.
This video was published to YouTube on Sunday, April 22, 2012.
(Ed. note: Raw Story's management chose to participate in the anti-SOPA protest earlier this year.)
[Image: Flickr user Gage Skidmore, creative commons licensed.]