October 24, 2012
Until the late 1990s, individuals interested in Austrian economics, U.S. constitutional history, and libertarian philosophy had few sources of information. They had to spend hours scouring used book stores or the back pages of obscure libertarian periodicals to find the great works of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, and other giants of liberty. Local library and university collections ignored libertarian politics and economics.
Today, however, the greatest classics of libertarian thought, libertarian philosophy, and libertarian economics are available instantly to anyone with internet access. Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever before for liberty activists to spread news and other information regarding the evils of government power and the benefits of freedom. For the first time in human history, supporters of liberty around the world can share information across borders quickly and cheaply. Without the filter of government censors, this information emboldens millions to question governments and promote liberty.
This is why liberty-minded Americans must do everything possible to oppose– and stop– government attempts to censor or limit the free flow of information online.
One such attempt is known as “CISPA”, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. This bill will create a monstrous coalition of big business and big government to rob Americans of their protections under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.
CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided they merely do so in the name of “cybersecurity.” But America is a constitutional republic, not a surveillance state– and the wildly overhyped need for security does not trump the Constitution.
“Cybersecurity” is the responsibility of companies that operate and make money in cyberspace, not taxpayers. Those companies should develop market-based private solutions to secure their networks, servers, cloud data centers, and user/customer information. The role of the US intelligence community is to protect the United States from military threats, not to provide corporate welfare to the private sector. Much like the TSA at the airport, CISPA would socialize security costs and remove market incentives for private firms to protect their own investments.
Imagine security-cleared agents embedded at private companies to serve as conduits for intelligence information about their customers back to the US intelligence community– while enjoying immunity from any existing civil or criminal laws. Imagine Google or Facebook reporting directly to the National Security Agency about the online activity of US citizens. Imagine US government resources being wasted on a grand scale to “assist” private companies in the global market. All of this would become reality under CISPA.
As of this writing, it appears that the House and Senate will not agree on a final version of CISPA this year. However, the Obama administration seems ready to impose provisions of this bill by executive order if Congress does not act soon.
The past five years have seen an explosion in the liberty movement, fueled in large part by the internet. Preserving that freedom is crucial if the liberty movement is to continue its progress. Therefore, all activists in the liberty movement have a stake in the battle for internet freedom. We must be ready to come together to fight any attempt to increase government’s power over the internet, regardless of the supposed justifications. We must resist voices from both the political right and left which alternatively seek to legislate morality or enforce political correctness with force. Copyright protection, pornography, cyberterrorism, gambling, and “hate speech” are merely excuses for doing what all governments have done throughout human history: increase their size, scope, and power.
Once we understand this, we understand the critical link between internet freedom and human freedom.
This article first appeared on Dr. Paul’s House page Paul.house.gov.