Rep. John Lewis Opposes Potential CISPA Infringement on Citizen Privacy and Right to Dissent

WASHINGTON--Today Rep. John Lewis encouraged members of the House to vote against H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA). He joined many other civil liberties, entertainment, and cyber privacy organizations in opposing the bill.  The bill would allow organizations like the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Department of Defense Cyber Command to share data it collects on American citizens with private industry or other government agencies without restriction. Objectors to the bill are concerned this unregulated provision could enable data collected could be used to monitor, infiltrate or frustrate American citizens or groups who protest or dissent against corporate interests or the government.  Rep. John Lewis made this statement today on the House floor:

I oppose H.R. 3523.  It is a step back.  Those of us who protested in the fifties and the sixties, who were called communists, who had our telephone calls recorded—we have a long memory.  We remember our nation’s dark past.  Martin Luther King, Jr.’s telephone was wiretapped. His hotel room was wiretapped.  His home was wiretapped. Our offices were wiretapped. Our meetings were wiretapped.  And it was not just people spying on civil rights activists, but people protesting against the war in Vietnam.  We didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter or email.  These new tools must be protected.  Today, we have a mission, a mandate, a moral obligation to protect future generations of activists and protestors. Stand with me today.  Stand on the right side of history.  Oppose H.R. 3523. 

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it lands on his desk.