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Privacy Government Security United States

CISA Surveillance Bill Hidden Inside Last Night's Budget Bill (engadget.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was inserted into the omnibus budget deal passed by the House of Representatives late last night. Engadget reports: "Last night's budget bill wasn't all about avoiding a government shutdown. Packed inside the 2,000-page bill announced by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the full text of the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015. If you'll recall, the measure passed the Senate back in October, leaving it up to the House to approve the bill that encourages businesses to share details of security breaches and cyber attacks. Despite being labeled as cybersecurity legislation, critics of CISA argue that it's a surveillance bill that would allow companies to share user info with the US government and other businesses. As TechDirt points out, this version of the bill stripped important protections that would've prevented directly sharing details with the NSA and required any personally identifying details to be removed before being shared. It also removes restrictions on how the government can use the data."
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CISA Surveillance Bill Hidden Inside Last Night's Budget Bill

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  • ...It will slide through and pass without difficulty.

    Huzzah...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Whorhay ( 1319089 )

      The point of this article is that it already happened. They passed that bill last night. And since the Senate already approved it months ago it just needs a presidential signature I believe. And at this point, if the President hasn't already signed it, he'd be really sticking his neck out by not signing it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sadly, I expect the President will sign it. Looking over the last few years, the changes -read erosions- in privacy laws have been shocking. Even that is probably not correct; I suspect the government has been doing this for decades, only since Snowden are we even aware of it.
        • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @04:20PM (#51132351) Journal

          No, a bunch of us were aware of it WAY before snowden. Of course, we were tagged with labels like "crackpot", "crazy", "delusional".

          • No, a bunch of us were aware of it WAY before snowden. Of course, we were tagged with labels like "crackpot", "crazy", "delusional".

            to be fair, being correct and having a few screws loose are not mutually exclusive. however, hats off to the CIA for putting a satellite in orbit that can steal your thoughts. ;)

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          Sadly, I expect the President will sign it.

          In this case he really should use the one power left to a lame duck President and use the line item veto. He could strike out the CISA stuff and leave the rest of the funding intact. The question would be if he would actually do it, but we all know the answer to that is most likely no.

          • by breech1 ( 137095 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @04:50PM (#51132591)

            In this case he really should use the one power left to a lame duck President and use the line item veto. He could strike out the CISA stuff and leave the rest of the funding intact. The question would be if he would actually do it, but we all know the answer to that is most likely no.

            Presidents do not have a line-item veto power. [wikipedia.org] Presidents can only veto the entire bill, which is why Congress habitually tries to add contentious items to "must-pass" bills.

            • Some countries have formal legislation that says that bills relating to budget or administrative matters of government can only contain text relating to budget and administrative matters of the government.

              That would go a long way to solving some of the bullshit that comes out of the USA system of government.

              It would be better if it went even further and said that the content of a bill can only be related to what is written on the bloody title.

      • No, the spending bill needs to be voted on by both the House and the Senate. So nothing passed yet.
        • No, the spending bill needs to be voted on by both the House and the Senate. So nothing passed yet.

          Correct. But since it is a budget bill, it can pass the senate with a simple majority, and does not require the normal 60 votes for cloture. This is an underhanded way of passing something that is not legitimately part of a budget.

          • ha ha. The US got Harpered.

            The last Canadian PM was infamous for creating a massive 'budget' document, with bunches of other unrelated laws, then pushing it through parliament.

            I guess free trade goes both ways.

            • Dude, the leadership in the US government has been pulling this shit for years. Think about it. Which government do you think is more likely to have come up with underhanded tactics first? Probably not Canada.

      • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:45PM (#51132057) Homepage

        No, it will have to go through another round of negotiation between the House and Senate because they didn't pass it as its own bill. Once the joint committee decides they both agree on what the combined result is, then it goes to the President. It is quite possible for the Senate to still block this. Unlikely.

        The President can easily veto this if he wants to, because everybody already knows that Congress plays these games at that the President might have to smack them down. The President has over double the approval rating of Congress, after all. History proves that the American people will rightfully blame Congress for not passing a clean budget when needed.

        As to the complaints, it is sad that the most prominent complaint people can think of is that it will "allow companies to share user info with the government." That makes it sound like this law does nothing. Companies own the data they collect about their users in the US, and they already are allowed to share it with the government when they decide to. If that is the best complaint people have, why should I care? Why do people who claim to care, claim to care? Because it will let things that already happen, continue to happen in the same way? What??!

        The linked engadget article author doesn't know. First they claim the full text of the bill was included, then in the next paragraph it talks about there being differences. Indeed, they link to an article that if they had read, they would know it wasn't the "full text" but rather an alternate text. The House and Senate have actually both already passed versions of this bill. The Senate version had a lot more protections, and was weaker than the older House bill. This House version is further from the Senate version than their last one. As a bill on its own, it has no meaning. This will not impact the negotiations with the Senate over a compromise in any positive way.

        This is probably more of an attempt by the House to submarine the budget deal. Expect the joint committee on the budget bill to toss that part out, since the Senate version of the budget bill didn't have that stuff. It can only go directly to the President if they pass the same bill. Otherwise, they have to sit down with each other and figure out what they're actually sending.

        • Not quite right. This budget bill is getting voted on by both the House and the Senate - to "keep the government running" so nobody is going to veto it - for this little piece.

          The president supports all this surveillance legislation - he probably had a hand in getting it rewritten (to the surveillance establishment's desires) and inserted into the Omnibus spending bill in the first place.
          • Not quite right. The stop-gap spending bills are to "keep the government running," and the Omnibus is to agree to terms to stop having to fund things temporarily.

            Temporary funding is much cleaner, since there is little value in temporary rules changes.

            If the Omnibus sucks, it can be vetoed or get stuck in the reconciliation committee and government won't shut down without separate refusal to pass temporary spending bills.

      • This is an instance you wish line item veto law wasn't struck down back in '98.

        • It wouldn't have been useful here. The line item veto was extremely limited [gpo.gov]:

          ``Sec. 1021. > (a) In General.--Notwithstanding the provisions of parts A and B, and subject to the provisions of this part, the President may, with respect to any bill or joint resolution that has been signed into law pursuant to Article I, section 7, of the Constitution of the United States, cancel in whole-- ``(1) any dollar amount of discretionary budget authority; ``(2) any item of new direct spending; or ``(3) any limited tax benefit;"

          So a section of the law that authorizes allows or requires activity, but does not fund it is not covered by the old line item veto. The president also had to show that the veto would directly reduce the deficit, not hurt national interests and not impair any government functions.

          It was one of those laws that politicians are very fond of passing. They can talk up how great they are for passing it and giving the government the tool

      • And since the Senate already approved it months ago it just needs a presidential signature I believe.

        No, don't work that way. The House and the Senate must pass identical bills before it can go to the president. The fact that the House amended this means the Senate must pass the amended bill--however, the betting is that they probably will.

  • by gregfortune ( 313889 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:06PM (#51131749)

    So say that I'm a Rep that is really trying hard to do the right thing and represent my constituent properly. This bill shows up for a vote and it's a 2000 page document. I probably read the initial version of the bill from front to back and was happy with it. Now, that 2000 page document has been modified in some interesting way right before the vote. Am I expected to read the entire thing again and just happen to notice the changes or is some kind of "diff" system widely available and used so it's easy to pick up these changes and evaluate them?

    It just seems like we read frequently about stuff being "hidden" or "snuck in." If some way to compare versions easily is available, then "hidden" is just a terrible excuse for someone not doing even a cursory review of the changes. If a way to compare versions isn't available, why the heck not?

    • by Rob MacDonald ( 3394145 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:09PM (#51131775)
      If it's anything like the patriot act it's technically impossible to fully read and large portions are amending parts of many other bills and documents. That's why shit like this is rammed through just before a break, after changes have been made ensuring there is not enough time to actually read the document. This is EXACTLY what happened with the patriot act. This is how it works.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:23PM (#51131881)

      So say that I'm a Rep that is really trying hard to do the right thing and represent my constituent properly. This bill shows up for a vote and it's a 2000 page document. I probably read the initial version of the bill from front to back and was happy with it.

      There's your first problem. You don't actually read the bill. Between meetings with constituents, lobbyists, or other Reps; your committee hearings; hours long "working lunches"; working on your own legislation; and campaigning if you are up for re-election next year you are lucky if you have time to read 200 pages. If anything you read an executive summary provided to you, and chances are that summary was either written by a staffer/intern who didn't read it either or it was provided by lobbyists who "lent their expertise to" (read:wrote) the bill that your fellow Rep then introduced. That's how you get comments like Pelosi's "We have to vote for it to see what's in it" or the Republican's latest on Obamacare "It had some fundamental problems/repercussions that we couldn't see when we passed it so now we are hoping to roll it back after the next election." The system is designed so that Reps and Senators don't actually know what they are voting on, and really don't care.

      • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:54PM (#51132133) Homepage

        You miss the same thing the parent does; they have staff that divide it up, read the parts, and can explain the parts. Spending the time to pass all the words briefly in front of your eyes wouldn't prepare you to vote on it, because there will be lots of details that have to be "worked out" by experts in the various areas of civics affected. What is important is that advisors who are experts in specific areas of law or policy have had detailed working discussions with the staff below them that have read those portions, and have examined the portions that are significant or could have multiple readings.

        Pelosi was making an existential comment. You not only mangle what she actually said, you give a completely erroneous reading. What she actually said was that there are lots of proposed bills, and the proposal is being amended continuously. The idea that there is "a bill" before it is voted on is silly, because it is changing from one minute to the next. Reading it doesn't help, because what did you read? Something that changed while you were reading it. Once something comes up for a vote, that is when you can't add more stuff to it; if it passes, then you could read it. This works because both houses of Congress have to pass it, and then discuss and vote on any differences, and then it also has to go to the President. The type of complaint you make is just an "insult from ignorance" that disappears if you attempt to understand what was said.

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          You miss the same thing the parent does; they have staff that divide it up, read the parts, and can explain the parts. Spending the time to pass all the words briefly in front of your eyes wouldn't prepare you to vote on it, because there will be lots of details that have to be "worked out" by experts in the various areas of civics affected. What is important is that advisors who are experts in specific areas of law or policy have had detailed working discussions with the staff below them that have read those portions, and have examined the portions that are significant or could have multiple readings.

          And do you know where most of those advisors come from? Every Rep doesn't have expert advisors on their staff, none of them would be able to afford it. That's the whole point of lobbyists, to "advise" legislators.

          Pelosi was making an existential comment. You not only mangle what she actually said, you give a completely erroneous reading. What she actually said was that there are lots of proposed bills, and the proposal is being amended continuously. The idea that there is "a bill" before it is voted on is silly, because it is changing from one minute to the next. Reading it doesn't help, because what did you read? Something that changed while you were reading it. Once something comes up for a vote, that is when you can't add more stuff to it; if it passes, then you could read it. This works because both houses of Congress have to pass it, and then discuss and vote on any differences, and then it also has to go to the President. The type of complaint you make is just an "insult from ignorance" that disappears if you attempt to understand what was said.

          So you are on board with legislatures essentially rubberstamping whatever piece of legislation makes it to the chamber floor? Because that's basically what you just said. The basic fact that a bill is completely fluid up until the moment it is actually voted on shows the institutional negligenc

          • So you are on board with legislatures essentially rubberstamping whatever piece of legislation makes it to the chamber floor? Because that's basically what you just said.

            THat's the thing, you hear the word "Pelosi" and you're trying to figure out who is on what side so you'll know what to believe. I was talking about the false accusation that idiots make about that particular comment. See, thing is, I actually went and watched the clip of her whole statement the first time that came up. It is a factual thing about how the US Congress works. Knowing how the current system works isn't predicated on agreeing that it is perfect. There is actually no position-taking at all there

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          The correct statement should have been unless and until this bill is in a steady state for not less that 2 weeks, my vote will be no. This is not negotiable.

          There are ways to force ill behaved reps to behave in a manner consistent with their duties and obligations as a representative.

          • You would vote "no" on everything, government would shut down if other voted the same way, and eventually after a few years of not funding any military Mexico would invade.

            It sounds nice, if you have no idea how the US government is organized. But eventually when you find out that the average voter wants you to do your job and pass a budget, you'll realize you can't have it all your way, and you'll have to compromise or be replaced by the voters with somebody who will. And once you realize that you have to

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Negotiation is fine. Printed drafts are fine. Provisional versions are fine. I have no idea what makes you think I said otherwise. But to actually PASS something, it is necessary to know what you're voting for. Anything else is negligence. That, in turn, requires that it remain stable long enough to read and understand every last bit of it.

              How would you feel about "we must open the spillway to find out if anyone will be drowned!"? I know that you would soon be known as "the defendant" and you would not have

              • \

                How would you feel about "we must open the spillway to find out if anyone will be drowned!"? I know that you would soon be known as "the defendant" and you would not have a good time in court if you did that.

                I would know it as a straw man as soon as you said it, and I would weigh its true value and consider the implications about the intent of the speaker to be seen as having said something rather than saying something relevant.

                • by sjames ( 1099 )

                  Sorry, not a strawman, but thanks for playing. It's not even an exaggerated analogy since one bill can harm millions all at once and for years to come.

                  Voting yes on a bill when you don't know what is in it is dereliction of duty.

                  • I didn't say it, I don't support it, and it is a lie that it was the situation described. You can say that doesn't amount to a "straw man," but it is a lie all the same. You stand by it, but you can't stand by a lie about what somebody else is supporting even after they not only disclaim it, but inform you that they never did support it.

                    You attempted to argue from absurdity, but it is a straw man because I never supported the position you extended to absurdity. Your spillway situation has nothing at all to

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      Go back and read again. You are claiming it is perfectly fine for a 2000 page bil;l with last minute changes to go up for a vote. How is that not voting on a bill you don't know the contents of?

                      I fail to see how voting yes to a bill that has a nasty unrelated bill that will harm millions stuffed inside that you didn't know about is any different from opening a spillway when you have no idea if anyone will drown or not. If a legislator votes yes, they are responsible for each and every bit of it. If they are

            • by khallow ( 566160 )

              You would vote "no" on everything, government would shut down if other voted the same way, and eventually after a few years of not funding any military Mexico would invade.

              Sounds like we ought to call your bluff on that. Personally, I would love the obstruction of bad and unaccountable law that this would create. When the US creates laws and regulations that each grow faster than someone can read and understand those, then something needs to be done to slow the process down.

              • You would vote "no" on everything, government would shut down if other voted the same way, and eventually after a few years of not funding any military Mexico would invade.

                Sounds like we ought to call your bluff on that. Personally, I would love the obstruction of bad and unaccountable law that this would create. When the US creates laws and regulations that each grow faster than someone can read and understand those, then something needs to be done to slow the process down.

                It isn't "my bluff." That's just... LOL WOW.

                You probably also will accuse bankers of having each invented the banking system.

                You may disagree, but if you think there was any original research in what I said then you do not yet even know if you agree or disagree, because you've never looked into these issues.

                If you want to disagree with not only the mainstream analysis, but with the next dozen opinions too, fine. But it is on you to know what the basic beliefs about the field of study are before deciding tha

                • by khallow ( 566160 )

                  You may disagree, but if you think there was any original research in what I said then you do not yet even know if you agree or disagree, because you've never looked into these issues.

                  Well, was there any original research in what you said, or were you just echoing more talking points?

                  If you want to disagree with not only the mainstream analysis, but with the next dozen opinions too, fine. But it is on you to know what the basic beliefs about the field of study are before deciding that your own personal idea is better.

                  How dare I disagree with the completely imaginary mainstream analysis here. And a dozen more opinions! That's a lot, right? Note that neither the hypothetical mainstream analysis or the next dozen opinions were ever mentioned in this thread, it was just your musings.

                  I call your bluff; I say you don't really have any idea about the subject. You talk about laws and regulations, but avoid the budget, which requires annual laws authorizing the government to spend money. Explain how you are right, by getting specific about what you claim I am wrong about. Don't just wave your hands and say there will be less bad laws; how will you cause the necessary budgets to get passed with his proposed system of voting "no" on anything that hadn't been static for 2 weeks on a non-negotiable basis. If you get enough of Congress to vote your way, but there are still other Americans whose reps vote differently, how are you going to negotiate and pass a budget?

                  It's worth noting that there are 52 weeks in a year. There is plenty of time for a two week waiting period in that. If the legislature can't do

        • Sure, so they divide and conquer. That doesn't address my question at all.

          My question was how do they deal with the constant change? Do they have a standard way to review what has changed from revision to revision? If so, then the word "hidden" is beyond shady. If not, then why not? With the way the process seems to work, it seems strictly necessary to not have to start from scratch each time the document is changed.

          It's almost funny from a programmer's perspective because dealing with this exact probl

          • My question was how do they deal with the constant change? Do they have a standard way to review what has changed from revision to revision?

            Yes, you can view the entire legislative history of H.R. 2029, the original bill here [congress.gov], with a list of 215 actions and 83 proposed amendments. All of this happened BEFORE the current amendment incorporating CISA.

            If so, then the word "hidden" is beyond shady. If not, then why not? With the way the process seems to work, it seems strictly necessary to not have to start from scratch each time the document is changed.

            Except that's basically what they did in this case. There was a 2000-page document just added as a giant omnibus "amendment" to this pre-existing H.R. 2029. You can see its summary, contents, and 18 proposed Amendments to this Amendment here [slashdot.org] (technically amendments to amendments to amendments to H

        • You miss the same thing the parent does; they have staff that divide it up, read the parts, and can explain the parts. Spending the time to pass all the words briefly in front of your eyes wouldn't prepare you to vote on it, because there will be lots of details that have to be "worked out" by experts in the various areas of civics affected. What is important is that advisors who are experts in specific areas of law or policy have had detailed working discussions with the staff below them that have read those portions, and have examined the portions that are significant or could have multiple readings.

          Yep. This is something that you can only understand by serving in a large legislative body the delegates large amounts of work to committees. I've never been a politician, but I have served in a faculty representative body within a large university. The reality is that individual members there simply have to trust the experts on the committees who actually deal with the details. You get the committee on curriculum or whatever that comes and says, "Today I bring forward 172 proposals for new courses." D

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            And before you say, "Well, they shouldn't be passing all this stuff anyway," just keep in mind that for every page of nefarious weird stuff stuck into some random bill, there are probably a dozen pages of random bureaucratic crap that need to go through just to keep everything functioning. You have to wade through all of that bureaucratic crap (which often is just fundamental basic stuff to keep things going in a reasonable fashion, and which you just need to trust your committee members and advisors to look over) in order to get to the controversial stuff.

            No, I don't buy this. Bureaucratic crap is not like energy. You don't need a certain amount of it to turn a wheel. And CISA is a pretty nasty and sizable bit to hide.

            • Society can't have downtime. It is a bunch of heavily patched legacy spaghetti code on a production machine that must keep going at all costs. The accrual of bureaucratic crap is unavoidable.
              • by khallow ( 566160 )

                Society can't have downtime. It is a bunch of heavily patched legacy spaghetti code on a production machine that must keep going at all costs. The accrual of bureaucratic crap is unavoidable.

                As I already mentioned, I don't buy that this is happening. Instead, I believe the opposite is happening with huge amounts of untested, spaghetti code dumped on production machines - faster than people can read it. The fact that society still moves indicates to me that it isn't as dependent on legislatures doing something as you assert.

              • by khallow ( 566160 )
                Looks like they also sneaked in a massive enlargement [thehill.com] of H1-B from 66k to either 200k or 250k, depending on who you ask.

                Well, when something must be kept going "at all costs", then the costs turn out to be high.

                We also have here a strong argument for government reduction as well. The less crap government does, the less they can hold hostage when they want to pass something like CISA or an H1-B expansion.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          The idea that there is "a bill" before it is voted on is silly, because it is changing from one minute to the next.

          And yet you called it "it". Plenty of things change from minute to minute (such as people) yet we don't have any trouble hanging names on them either. This is just bad philosophical reasoning to support a thoughtless, callous insult.

          And given that the eventual Obamacare bill was a pile of nasty crap, concern over what was in the bill turned out to be warranted.

          • The idea that there is "a bill" before it is voted on is silly, because it is changing from one minute to the next.

            And yet you called it "it". Plenty of things change from minute to minute (such as people) yet we don't have any trouble hanging names on them either. This is just bad philosophical reasoning to support a thoughtless, callous insult.

            If you're down to arguing over the definition of "it," you've already lost. That is the size of your objection, why do you not simply concede the point? LOL
            No, calling a changeable thing "it" is not any problem. That is a very standard and correct use of "it." Whereas, a "bill" is a certain type of thing that doesn't actually exist until it has been passed; it is only a proposal, a prototype. A bill that is still changing already has a number, and the proposal is a thing that gets talked about; but the actu

            • by khallow ( 566160 )

              If you're down to arguing over the definition of "it," you've already lost.

              Nope, I made a point. Even you refer to the bill as a single thing even though it "changes". There are plenty of things like legislative bills that evolve over time yet maintain a clear identity.

              And given that the eventual Obamacare bill was a pile of nasty crap, concern over what was in the bill turned out to be warranted.

              "Obamacare" passed, and is popular.

              No. Don't buy it. Sure, small parts of it are probably popular with small groups of people with a good payout from the law, particularly those with preexisting conditions. who want their employers to pay for expensive birth control options, or who own a significant share of an insurance company. I'm sure that once t

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Between meetings with constituents,

        That's why it is important that constituents read the bills so that they can write to their representatives and make their will known. There is no reason that the "many eyes" philosophy applied to open source software can't be applied to reading what laws are being proposed. If you can read and write, you are qualified.

        Read them instead of watching the commercials during whatever show you watch.

        The system is designed so that Reps and Senators don't actually know what they are voting on, and really don't care.

        I think there are people there who are trying you just have to reach them so they understand what the issues are.

    • So say that I'm a Rep that is really trying hard to do the right thing and represent my constituent properly.

      There's your problem in the first sentence.

      If you're a rep, you got elected from deals with big corporations and monied interests in return for campaign donations.

      If you're a rep, you're not representing your constituency.

    • It's 2015. Congress can hire someone for $10/hour to run diff against the two bills and e-mail them to everyone. There is no excuse for passing something without knowing what's in it and we need to hold these people fully accountable for their votes.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's more complex than that though. A lot of the text in bills is 's/foo/bar/' so you need context for all of those as well. So I could write a bill that repeals a bill that replaces the word not with the word always in a section that was removed and reinserted elsewhere in the text for a definition of "lobster".

        Basically, our system of maintaining laws is kinda busted.

        • by PRMan ( 959735 )
          Plus. Bills are walked as paper to the floor and dropped in the box. It is often immediately before this point that changes are made en masse.
        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          No, it's not really more complex than that. People are claiming it must be like that and people like you are excusing it, but there is no reason Congress has to vote on something they can not read or fully understand. This adding of BS to bills isn't necessarily new but it is also not supposed to happen at all, let alone to the extremes we have allowed it to get to. We have 3 AOs who are supposed to be a fail safe, which does not imply that the first AO requires baby sitters..

          Your (so called?) Representa

    • by Arkh89 ( 2870391 )

      No, you are supposed to look at the diff log...

      "Real governments use version control..."

    • So.... they don't have software that will search the content of these PDF's or whatever for key language?

      Maybe do a diff between the original doc and the new doc? Doesn't seem like this is a hard problem to solve.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:06PM (#51131751)
    This crap is typical. First, you have a 2,000 page document that nobody has read. Second, it's full of crap that would never pass on it's own and can barely stand to be in a room with itself because of the stink. No wonder nobody thinks congress is doing a good job, they're all a bunch of crooks and flim flam artists.
  • One important law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:09PM (#51131785) Journal

    One important law that is needed, perhaps above all others, is something to prevent jamming unrelated bills (or perhaps just multiple bills) into a single law. Sure, you'd end up with more bits and pieces, but overall they should be more easily parsed than huge bills. Of course then gov't would still actually have to read this sh**, but hey...

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @04:00PM (#51132195) Journal

      41 states have that.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      43 states allow their governors to veto specific items in bills.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      In 1996 the Republicans gave Clinton line-item veto. The Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional, because Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution says the president either signs or vetoes the bill, not -part- of the bill. It needs to be done as a constitutional amendment.

      • Interestingly, line-item veto was one of the very few differences between the US Constitution and the Confederate Constitution.
        • Another difference was the inability for states to say no to slavery. They *had* to allow slavery. So the states had less States Rights in the CSA.

          • Yup. Line item veto, president gets one six year term, states have slightly more control over transport on waterways, and surprise, slavery is now constitutionally mandated. I think there might be one more change I'm forgetting, but otherwise, that's it.

            It's funny when people start going on about 'states rights' and 'heritage not hatred' and 'slavery had nothing to do with it,' despite being shown the CSA Constitution, and the Statements of Succession from six of the original succeeding states that clea

    • by ashpool7 ( 18172 )

      Or, I dunno, veto giant bills on principle until they start sending them in the pieces they need to be in?

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        Maybe, but - assuming somebody had enough morals to push such a bill, and the congress at the time to pass it - a law preventing them from happening would also work to prevent such an issue from re-emerging in the future (or at least, unless such a law itself was struck down).

      • That's the way open source handles it: if someone submits a pull request with one huge patch that changes multiple things, it will most likely get rejected with the request to split it up into patches that change one thing each. It's the sensible thing to do if you care about the quality of the code base.

    • Not so much that, but a law along the lines of 1 day review for every 10 pages of a bill. As in, a 200 page bill requires 20 days before it comes up for a vote. Change a line, even to fix a typo? Clock starts over. Gives plenty of time for these overloaded behemoths to have eyeballs scrutinizing them, and letting us common folk to flood the inboxes of anyone thinking of voting for the pig.

      Add to that some sort of revision control system, so if some nebbish tries to slip something into the guts of a 2
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:10PM (#51131791) Homepage

    How are laws like this even legal? I doubt that even a single representative who voted on this bill read the entire bill. With a 2000 page bill, that is probably changing until minutes before it hits the house floor, there is no way that anybody could possibly know what's in it. They should keep the laws short and simple so that both the representatives and citizens can actually understand what the law means.

    • It's legal because someone pulled a Darth Sidious. "I will MAKE it legal".

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      How are laws like this even legal? I doubt that even a single representative who voted on this bill read the entire bill.

      The representatives voting on it are attesting that they have read and understand it by voting.
      The problem here is they are not held accountable to that, even though it's literally their job to be reading all these bills.

      It's another case of people slacking off at work and their bosses (us) not firing them for it.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Every US brand, US .com, US academic and other 'connected' network gets to share anyones cybersecurity information via fancy new "portals" with US federal agencies.
      Any and all digital or other US privacy laws over past decades are gone.
      The "specific threat" is so vague too, allowing law enforcement to be given every aspect of data without any standing needed for imminent threats to enable "collect it all".
      The 4th Amendment protection is gone, replaced with a phone in, phone home, report and share by defa
  • Is it too much to hope for that once this bill makes it way to the Senate, the usual Congressional gridlock will kick in and prevent it from moving forward? Am I placing too much faith in our Congress's incompetence?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It passed the Senate a while ago.

  • So? Who did it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DriveDog ( 822962 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:19PM (#51131859)
    When something bad happens, we normally look for the guilty party or at least a scapegoat. Now we get "was hidden". Who hid it? What individual inserted CISA into the budget bill? Why don't all the major news outlets say "Rep. Smith inserted CISA into the budget bill"?
    • This, exactly. My kingdom for a mod point.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It was that rights-trampling b*****d, Obama... He's takin' away all of our rights... oh, but wait, the republican congress would never have let this happen....

    • Did any of the senators or their staff actually spot this Trojan cuckoo before the vote? Did anyone say anything?

      • Sorry, should have said Representatives (I'm not from round these parts).

        • I think the only way to do these things is to blame everyone who had access and keep doing that until those not wanting to be blamed speak up or block it. Unfortunately forcing that takes more time and effort than anyone has.
    • Does it even matter anymore?

      Bottom line: privacy-sensitive data will be snooped upon by US government agencies. If it isn't in one way, then in another. Either legal or illegal. Such data isn't safe when controlled by US companies, and isn't safe when it passes over US-controlled communication lines. Unless protected by strong encryption that doesn't contain backdoors. Well... possibly not safe either on other communication lines, but that's another story. If you have such data to protect, the first thin

    • When something bad happens, we normally look for the guilty party or at least a scapegoat. Now we get "was hidden". Who hid it?

      The House Rules Committee [house.gov].

      What individual inserted CISA into the budget bill?

      This looks like an action that was undertaken by the committee, so you're unlikely to find a single person named for that particular section.

      Why don't all the major news outlets say "Rep. Smith inserted CISA into the budget bill"?

      Because it doesn't always work that way. See, this bill used to be H.R. 2029 [congress.gov], which was a military appropriations bill. It went through the House a few months ago, then the Senate made a bunch of modifications last month where it passed unanimously. You can read all the sundry details of its history at the link.

      What appears to have happen

    • When something bad happens, we normally look for the guilty party or at least a scapegoat. Now we get "was hidden". Who hid it? What individual inserted CISA into the budget bill? Why don't all the major news outlets say "Rep. Smith inserted CISA into the budget bill"?

      "Those who love sausage and the law should never watch them being made."

      I'm afraid I have seen that these things are often totally anonymous and untraceable. You see, when a law is passed by both houses, the two versions seldom are quite identical and the bill goes to a committee to iron out the differences. In "conference" lots of people who work for representatives from both houses work to incorporate changes agreed to, but they generate the actual wording that is voted on. They have been known to slip in

  • in the Senate for passing bills the public doesn't like. All you can do is vote the politicians who let you down out of office. Sadly, even that has become extremely difficult to do because the power of our vote has been severely eroded.

    Lawrence Lessig wanted to do something about it (the power of our vote) but he was excluded from the election process by the entrenched Democratic Party and Mass Media, who are quite happy with the status quo. He most likely still would not have gotten very far (stepping dow

    • It's standard operating procedure in legislative bodies that don't have some sort of "germane amendment" rule, not just the US Senate.

      Lessig was not a serious candidate for President. IIRC, he wanted to get a Constitutional amendment passed (something the President isn't actually involved in; it's Congress and state legislatures) and then resign. This part of the election process is for parties to select their candidates. It is not to allow any random person to push their favorite ideas in a debate.

  • Not only is cramming omnibus bills a scummy practice, but doing so right before everyone leaves for a holiday to add pressure not to read things and just pass them is double scummy.
  • Don't worry. I'm sure my senators won't vote for it.
    Well shit they both voted for CISA in the senate [senate.gov] last time. I guess Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken do hate our freedoms. All that is really left is to find out if my freedom hating shit stain of a Representative (that would be you Kline you ignorant bastard) voted for it in the house.
  • You'd think they would oppose this but then again they're just Republicans with a Libertarian fetish....there's always the line item veto.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:48PM (#51132091)

    This is a prime example why so called riders should be illegal. All it takes is one corrupt "owned" politician to surreptitiously slip in items that have been rejected by the majority of both the house and senate. This is not democracy, this one (or a small group) of self-serving criminals slipping something past the rest of the nation. If a bill is so poorly written, disgusting or reviled that it cannot stand on its own merits it has no business being "inserted" in anything but a garbage can.

    • It does not allow a single corrupt politician to do anything. These amendments are voted on in the appropriate committee, so they won't see the floor if a majority of the committee doesn't agree. If it's a measure that is opposed by the majority of both Houses, it's not likely to make it into the final bill. If the House and Senate pass bills that aren't identical, they go into conference committee to come up with a compromise version. If the provision comes from the House, say, and both the House and

  • by Bosconian ( 158140 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @04:33PM (#51132461) Journal

    How hard is it to define the scope at the start, then have all legislation following stay within those parameters?

    I think any "lawmaker" that pulls these maneuverings - inserting legislation too far outside the intended scope of the bill - should be subject to censure, fines, and felony charges. The only defense would be to try to convince a bipartisan committee that you had a legitimate reason for injection, apart from bribes, handouts, contributions, kickbacks, and special favors of course.

    If there are no penalties and no systems to steer the cows of Capitol Hill effectively, then the abuse will continue to run rampant.

  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:28PM (#51132945) Homepage
    All bills should be clean with no "extras" inserted under cover of darkness.

    Of course, if we had an actual budget, we wouldn't be talking about this particular bill, but the country hasn't had a real budget in years. Continuing resolutions and last minute fixes are no way to run a country.

    Chances of such an amendment? Realistically - zero. Unless the states do it in a Constitutional Convention, there's no chance a corrupt Congress and President would go for it.

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