The overall theme for the week seems to have been ‘Big Brother’ and the Internet, with flashes of stupidity relating to video games and murder (yup – someone is beating that ‘horse’ once again) and CalTech unleashing Daleks on an unsuspecting MIT population. Just another week of nerdery in the geek-o-verse!
1. Two Steps Forward, One Back — CISPA Passes the House
Okay gang, if you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to put down the video game controllers and wake up! The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House of Representatives this week. This way-too-broad bill would give companies the ability to share our private and possibly sensitive information with the government, without the need for a warrant or oversight. Not only that, but companies could share information with the National Security Agency or any other Department of Defense groups — who could keep our information on file indefinitely.
In a statement that we issued just after the House vote, ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson stated:
“CISPA goes too far for little reason. Cybersecurity does not have to mean abdication of Americans’ online privacy. As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back. We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity.”
Unless you particularly want to live in a dystopian society where Big Brother really does rule things with an iron fist and people are afraid to open their mouths for being accused of treasonous words (or thoughts), then you need to make your voice heard NOW! Click here to sign an online petition and monitor what is happening.
2. Steps Taken to Thwart Another Boneheaded ‘Big Brother’ Move
New legislation has been introduced in Congress that would forbid employers from demanding the social networking logins and passwords for potential employees, a practice that was outed this month amidst outrage from the public.
According to Rep. Eliot Engel, who acts as a co-sponsor on the draft legislation:
“No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world.”
If the bill passes into law, the Social Networking ONline Protection Act would see violators fined $10,000 for every offense.
A similar bill is currently being passed for reading through the Senate.
Although the bills are new to Congress, some states have already made moves to put an end to such practices, with Maryland being the first to rule against such behavior in early April. Illinois, Michigan and California are currently debating such legislation as well.
Start communicating with your legislators now! With elections around the corner, at least half of the jokers in Congress are up for re-election, so NOW is the time to make your voice heard and make sure they protect YOUR interests!
3. Video Games Blamed for Contributing to Murder — Again
Yes, we are back on this old saw once more. Earlier this week, Joshua Davis, a 32 year-old, Winter Haven, Fla. man killed two of his gaming buddies and wounded a third, while his six-year-old daughter looked on. While news media and a ‘local psychiatrist’ (who I am sure sees MANY, MANY, THOUSANDS of video game related murders in his local Winter Haven practice) were quick to blame the deaths on the man’s many hours spent playing Battlefield 3, the ‘little’ fact they are quick to conveniently forget is that drugs were also involved.
According to Dr. Walter Afield, the local psychiatrist that apparently specializes in video game addition (at least that is the way local media are making it sound), playing video games is:
“…a way of not relating with people and making that your life. And, those people are a little crazy.”
It would be nice if the media would actually check that their so-called ‘experts’ actually know what they are talking about. To hear Afield tell it, anyone who plays video games is crazy. He is painting a lot of perfectly sane people with that broad brush of his. Anyone want to bet that his secret passion is playing Angry Birds?
4. And the Dalek Invasion is Starting – At MIT
With graduation looming, the usual shenanigans are starting on university campuses around the nation. Not to be outdone, this year the enigmatic engineering students of Cal Tech built a large Dalek atop the Stata Center, MIT’s computer science building and a hotspot for inter-university pranks. Check out the location of the building — getting the Dalek up took some serious planning and determination. Way to go Cal Tech — you win this round!