Today, the Cybersecurity Act (CSA), which contained the Orwellian Section 701 (championed by Sen. John McCain), was defeated in the Senate when it failed to achieve cloture. While Senate champions such as Al Franken, Ron Wyden, Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul deserve a great deal of credit, Internet users, and fellow champions of user privacy and a free Internet, should count this as their own victory.
As I noted earlier today, EFF’s “Stop Cyber Spying” Twitter and Facebook campaign also helped concerned Internet users voice their dissent to Senators in a very real and quantifiable way. Before the defeat, the very same sort of Internet activism helped craft more privacy-friendly provisions in CSA. It was, quite simply, an inspiring form of democracy in action. The people spoke and they were heard.
“There’s a newly empowered base of Internet activists across the United States, and alongside us stands a newly-strengthened corps of pro-privacy senators whom we look forward to working with to fight any future attacks on the Internet,” said Demand Progress executive director David Segal. “We’re grateful for their hard work to protect our privacy as the cyber-security bill was debated, and ask rank-and-file Internet users to thank them and encourage them to work with us down the road — we’ll surely need their help again.”
As with the SOPA defeat earlier this year, though, CSA’s spectacular crash and burn should not signal it’s permanent disintegration. If Americans have learned anything over the years, it is that dead bills have a way of being resurrected. Activists and other concerned individuals should also be aware that CSA’s defeat might well have occurred because of election year politics. That is, Senators did not want to attach themselves to controversial legislation as they seek reelection.
At any rate, McCain should now sit and reflect on the fact that Section 701 was a big part of the reason why CSA died on the Senate floor.