CISPA's Author Apparently Thinks President Obama Is a 14-Year-Old Twitter Nerd

The Internet's depending on you, Internet freedom advocates!

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Apr 17 2013, 5:33pm

It's game time, folks. All you friends of liberty that fought hard to keep the government from censoring the web with the sweeping provisions of SOPA and PIPA, it's time to join the picket line, time to sign a petition, time to call a congressman. Because CISPA is heading to the House floor, and if it passes, the cybersecurity bill will be one step closer to giving the NSA access to all of your online data.

The Internet's depending on you, Internet freedom advocates! And according to Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, those that oppose CISPA are just a bunch of "14-year-olds tweeting from their basement." Why should Congress listen to them, Rogers insinuated, when "the people who are in the business of prosperity on the Internet" support CISPA?

The Internet did not miss Rogers' insulting incorrect statement about CISPA's opponent, and Rogers didn't try to hide it. The congressman delivered the line in a widely publicized House Rules Committee meeting about CISPA on Tuesday. During this meeting, the committee considered a number of amendments to CISPA, none of which made it out.

The lawmakers also received a letter from the White House that President Obama would veto the bill in its current form. This is not the first time the Obama administration has expressed opposition to the bill either.

So apparently, Mike Rogers thinks Barack Obama is a fourteen-year-old tweeting from his basement. Or at the very least, he's lumping the president with the group of pimply faced tweens. Privacy advocates also pounced on Rogers for his sweeping generalization, probably because pretty much every civil liberties group under the sun — at least 34 of them anyways — has been fighting against this bill since Rogers first introduced in November 2011. 

I'm just going to go right out and say it: Mike Rogers is wrong. This is not a bold statement — it's glaringly obvious. Like the lawmakers behind SOPA did, the Republican congressman is trying to stereotype those who fight for privacy and other digital rights. Rogers puts a new spin on it by highlighting how companies like Google and Facebook approve of CISPA. Without oversimplifying the issue too much, the current version of the bill is actually good for these Internet companies, despite the fact that it's vague about protecting users' privacy. Think about it: Facebook wouldn't mind a federal law that enables them to collect more information on users, would they?

The relationship between those Internet companies and CISPA is complex, but the opposition from privacy advocates could not be more clear cut. It's not just groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) either. Internet companies like Reddit and Mozilla have also been fighting the legislation, as have countless academics and cybersecurity experts

Mike Rogers is wrong, but he's not deaf. After the cacophonous response to his statements at the House Rules Committee meeting, Rogers defended himself on Twitter. (Ironic, right?) He said, "Spent 18mos working w/ privacy groups to protect Americans from cyber hacking. #CISPA preserves Internet freedoms." His link points back to a timeline of privacy improvements made to CISPA. My favorite reply to Rogers half-ditch effort to pacify his opponents came from Alison Dame-Boyle from the EFF who tweeted, "Hats off to the privacy groups working with [Mike Rogers] on CISPA, so good at privacy that no one knows who they are. "