TPP and a Farmer’s Right to Repair

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will make permanent nonsensical laws which prevent farmers from actually owning their farm equipment, and turn farmers that that diagnose, repair, and/or modify their farm equipment into criminals.

First, some background.  TPP is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries.  The stated goal of the agreement is to,

“promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” read more

Thune sponsors Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015

Senator John Thune sponsored the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 which passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent a few weeks ago.  Per the Congressional Research Service (CRS):

This bill makes a provision of a form contract void from the inception if it:
(1) prohibits or restricts an individual who is a party to such a contract from engaging in written, verbal, or pictorial reviews, or other similar performance assessments or analyses of, the products, services, or conduct of a person that is also a party to the contract;
(2) imposes penalties or fees against individuals who engage in such communications; or
(3) transfers or requires the individual to transfer any intellectual property rights in any such otherwise lawful communications about such person or the goods or services provided by such person.
read more

On Republican Leadership

One year ago, Senator John Thune penned an op-ed where he stated that,

“Under Republican control, the Senate will get back to work, returning to regular order, which means bills will be considered out in the open in committees before coming to the Senate floor, and all senators, regardless of party, will have a chance to propose and debate amendments.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow the Senate that closely, but here’s what I’ve observed this past year: read more

Thune and Rounds Kill Privacy As We Know It

Senators Rounds and Thune dealt a severe blow to consumer privacy when they helped to pass Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Oct 27th 2015.  From Senator Round’s press release,

The bipartisan cyber security bill we passed in the Senate today will help protect Americans from such cyber-attacks by allowing companies to share information about cyber-threats to prevent other businesses from falling victim to similar threats. It does so while protecting Americans’ private information from being shared and is 100 percent voluntary. read more

Thune hosts cyber-security hearing at DSU

Senator Thune hosted a field hearing on the topic of cyber-security at Dakota State University.  You can read all about it at  I’m happy to see that Sen. Thune is seeking input from industry experts in an open forum.  Hopefully that information will aid in the crafting of sensible cyber-security legislation.  Kudos to Sen Thune for this.

Unfortunately, Senator Thune still used to opportunity to promote CISA, the cyber-security legislation that was crafted absent public input in closed door sessions of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  If you don’t recall, CISA could actually make us less secure. read more

Senators Thune and Rounds Embrace Playground Politics

Defying all logic, both Senators Thune and Rounds voted to renew the Patriot Act as is without changes.  The Patriot Act was set to sunset on June 1st, 2015.  Though the Patriot Act had been renewed in the past, this time was different.  In May 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents to several journalists which shed light on how the Patriot Act was being actually being used.  One of the most startling revelations was that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting the phone records of virtually every American on a daily basis. This gave rise to a number of developments: read more

CISA to be Used for Domestic Surveillance

It’s already clear that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) isn’t really needed, and may actually make the nation’s cyber-security worse.  So why then, has the Senate Intelligence Committee along with Senator Thune and the Republican leadership been pushing so hard to pass this seemingly bad legislation?  I think the answer may lay in its true purpose, domestic surveillance.

This article provides a good summary of just how CISA could be used for domestic surveillance, and how the information collected could be used by the government for purposes beyond cyber-security. read more

CISA To Make Cyber-Security Worse

It seems the Republican leadership (which includes Sen. John Thune) hasn’t had much luck with their strategy of limiting debate on surveillance bills by pushing them through just before a recess.  There was enough opposition to CISA prior to the Senate’s August recess, that they were forced to postpone a vote until September.  Since then, I’ve come across  a few interesting stories about how CISA may actually make cyber-security worse.

This article on an DOJ IG report, speculates that companies may be hesitant to share any information with the government because of concerns about how the personal information of customers might be used.  CISA, after all, allows the information shared with the government to be used for purposes other than cyber-security. read more

Senate to vote on CISA soon

Soon, the Senate will vote on a cyber-security bill called CISA.  It’s a red herring.  Senator Wyden of the Intelligence Committee called it a “surveillance bill by another name”.  CISA proponents, including Senators Thune and Rounds, wrongly claim that CISA will protect computer networks through increased information sharing between companies and the government.  But CISA wouldn’t have stopped any of the recent computer network breaches such as those at Sony or Target. read more

Rep. Noem flips on NSA Warrantless Searches

On June 11th, Congress passed the Massie-Lofgren admendment to the 2016 Defense Appropriations bill.  From Rep. Massie’s press-release:

Under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Americans’ private data and communications – including emails, photos, and text messages – can be collected by intelligence agencies, provided that data or communication at some point crosses the border of the United States. Given the current fluid nature of electronic communications and data storage, in which corporate and private server farms store Americans’ data all over the world, this loophole could allow intelligence agencies access to a vast swath of communications and data without warrant protection. Intelligence officials have confirmed to Congress that law enforcement agencies actively search the content of this intercepted data without probable cause, and have used evidence gathered to assist in criminal prosecutions. Government agencies have also reportedly coerced individuals and organizations to build encryption “backdoors” into products or services for surveillance purposes, despite industry and cryptologist claims that this process is not technologically feasible without putting the data security of every individual using these services at risk. The Massie-Lofgren Amendment would prohibit funding for activities that exploit these “backdoors.” read more

A Blog about Technology and South Dakota Politics