What Will Happen if Texas CISPA-Like Bill Passes?

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Hey Texans – hope you like 404 messages.

The Texas CISPA-like bill, SB 1052 – is being debated today and may very well pass the Texas Legislature.

The Texas CISPA bill could soon affect the ability of Texas users to access specific websites — and every website and Internet provider in the country that serves data to Texans will be forced to comply with the law. Call Governor Rick Perry @ 512-463-1782 and tell him to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

Supporters of the legislation have shortsightedly attempted to circumvent the national CISPA law by empowering their own law enforcement agents to use search warrants to seize any electronic data/communications “regardless of whether the customer data, contents of communications, or other information is held at a location in this state or at a location in another state.” That is – from any websites or Internet service providers “under a contract or a terms of service agreement with a resident of this state.” This is extremely broad and encompasses the endless copyright claims all across the Internet that CISPA targeted.

That means that if you are a company in Iowa, or California, or New York, and you have Texas users who visit your site or have accounts, you could be required to turn over their user data, communications with other users, and any other information about the user that you may be storing – and you could be forced to turn it over in as little as 4 days.

The bill states that the maximum amount of time that a site or Internet service provider can delay turning over records is between 15 and 30 days, depending on the court order. The bill also criminalizes any delay by a website or service provider, and lets the local jurisdiction decide whether to file contempt of court charges against a director/owner of a website or service provider who fails to comply within the short window.

What are websites and Internet service providers going to do, in order to prevent themselves from being at the whim of every court and law enforcement agent in Texas? One simple solution: Texans could be blocked from websites that don't want to comply with an extremely broad definition of “electronic communications”.

Read more below the jump.This bill also sticks its claws deep into the private communication of tens of millions of Americans across the country. Imagine the Facebook conversations of just one person being handed over. Hundreds if not thousands of people could get swept up in the electronic fervor of one local judge. How many people have you tweeted with? How many people have you re-tweeted? What huge data sets will some local judge be sweeping up with this bill?

In short, this bill is dangerous both for all Americans' privacy and Internet access for Texans.

How will this data be managed to prevent data leaks? Will every tiny courthouse in the state have the data stored on some non-encrypted hard drive? Who by name will ensure that data leaks don't occur? Will there be some big defense contractor that swoops in to help organize the data?

One final question remains- will Texas Governor Rick Perry give the rest of the Internet the finger by signing this bill into law? Call Perry's opinion hotline at (512) 463-1782 and ask if Perry will veto the Texas CISPA bill.

We don't know exactly how this bill will affect Internet privacy across the country, but the bill was rushed to vote, and Texas has hastily tried to circumvent laws being debated in Congress.

Come this time next week, will Rick Perry be the Governor who turned off the Internet for Texas?


About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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