CISPA Blackout


For a list of sites participating in the online CISPA Blackout. Please visit here:

If you do decide to put a banner up, you can get added to the list by e-mailing

Not sure what CISPA is and why you should oppose it? Check out my STOP CISPA post below.




There is a major vote coming up in the Senate about CISPA. The House has already passed it. If you use the internet in any capacity (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Reddit, WordPress, etc,) you stand to have your 4th amendment rights and privacy violated…and not even know it’s happening!

The Constitution must not end where the digital domain begins.

Would you let police or government officials randomly invade your home, record your phone calls, comb through your financial records, search and seize whatever interests them without a warrant or reason?

CISPA will allow them to do that to any and all information about you online. Not only that, but they don’t even have to let you know that they’re doing it. Oh, and they’re also allowed to use 3rd PARTIES in order to obtain the information. 3rd parties that then have access to your information and have very loose definitions and little-to-no oversight preventing them from using it for other means.

If you have been subject to this, and you somehow happen to find out about it, you will have no legal recourse to dispute their actions or their claims. So, if there is a mix-up or a case of mistaken identity, you could suffer these ramifications with no way of rectifying the situation.

This will also have international ramifications because CISPA can override any site’s Terms of Service. So, for example, CISPA would allow Canadian (or any other country’s citizens) online data to be available to the US government without a warrant.

Let’s talk about those loose definitions for a moment. CISPA, as it’s currently written, allows greater access to your personal information by the government. Here’s a quote from the bill defining “Cyber Threat:”

“Information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or a network of a government or private entity.” (emphasis mine)

So, if you were to cleave to the letter of the law, the next time you tweet something negative about- let’s say AT&T’s customer service- they could say you were a threat to their business. See how such broad definitions in this bill could leave the door open for future abuse?

Okay, now let’s look at another part of their definition of “Cyber Threat:”

“Theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property or personally identifiable information.” (emphasis mine)

Intellectual property has been a hot topic for corporations ever since the internet was born. I believe in giving due credit to owner’s of intellectual property. I’m not a proponent of people who steal the hard work of others. (Duh, I’m a blogger! Cite me if you’re going to quote me, amiright?)

That being said, there have been many cases where corporations have taken things to the extreme. If they had their way, we would not have an iTunes. Justin Bieber would still be some kid singing in his basement (remember, he got his start on YouTube, singing cover songs of “intellectual property.”) We, as bloggers, would probably be getting sued left and right for mentioning companies, or sharing photos with an accidental logo in the background. Sites like Pinterest would never exist.

The point being, when you put “private entity” and “intellectual property” under the definition of Cyber Threat, you are setting a very dangerous precedent. One that opens the door for massive abuse. Now add to the fact that they can collect your private information secretly and then share it- all under this Cyber Threat umbrella- and you’ll never even know it is happening.

My friend, JRingo says:

“Most basically, this bill, as it reads in current format, allows for the suspension of all rights regarding the 4th amendment in terms of your online presence. As well, the bill removes all methods of legal recourse for the citizen if rights are found to be violated. While the motivation at present time may be pure (which I doubt knowing the history of military-industrial-security complex in this nation and their effect on legislation), the broad and ambiguous nature of the language presented in the bill leaves great room for interpretation further down the road.

Our rights to privacy are already at an all-time low, and this bill allows for a greater subjugation of one of the bedrock, fundamental rights afforded to us by the Constitution. While it may appear inconsequential now, the future could be quite bleak if we continue down this path.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Unlike it’s older sister, SOPA, the online corporations have not been as opposed to CISPA. This is because they are not being held liable for sharing your personal information to the government and 3rd parties. That means we, as citizens, have a LOT more work to do.

Please, take a moment and read up on this issue. Inform yourself about what you stand to lose. I have included a list of links at the bottom of the page. This issue should be particularly important to my fellow bloggers out there reading this on the WordPress and Blogger blogs. It directly affects you.

Then, after you feel comfortably aware, WRITE YOUR SENATORS and spread the word. If you’re not sure who your senators are, or how to contact them, then you can go HERE. They need to know that we will not stand idly by while they dismantle the 4th amendment in regards to the internet.

There is also an internet blackout scheduled for 4/22/13 to make our protest really visible. I encourage anybody reading this to participate! Change your avatars on FaceBook and Twitter. Put a post up on your blogs with the NO CISPA logo and get more people aware of this bill. Write a post about CISPA yourself. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, I am encouraging anybody who reads this to link back to this post, tweet it, share it any way you can.

This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. This affects everyone. Sign the petition. Write your Senators.


For a copy of the bill in its entirety:

How CISPA Would Affect You (faq)

CISPA is Back: FAQ on What it is and Why it’s Still Dangerous

CISPA passes U.S. House: Death of the Fourth Amendment?

The CISPA Government Access Loophole

CISPA is Back

An America Without Privacy

Why CISPA is the Worst and How You Can Help Stop It

CISPA Supporters List: 800+ Companies That Could Help Uncle Sam Snag Your Data

Let them know you vote! Stop CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act)


Happy Zombie Cesar Chavez Day!

Credit: Rio Yañez

Credit: Rio Yañez

So, I guess there are some people who are creating a big stink about the fact that Google has decided to feature Cesar Chavez’ birthday on their homepage rather than Easter.

Personally, I find it rather refreshing. Actually, it’s funny. We never hear people complaining about the fact that Google hasn’t properly acknowledged Ramadan or Passover, do we?

After all, it isn’t like we have a shortage of Muslims or Jews in the United States. Being a secular person myself, I sometimes forget that there are people who would choose to make such mountains out of molehills.

To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten that Easter was this weekend. Which made for a rather pleasant surprise when I found out I had a paid holiday coming up in the form of Good Friday. I may not be religious, but I’ll take a paid holiday anytime!

Of course that also meant I had to deal with the inconvenience of the grocery stores and retail shops being closed today, so I guess it ends up being a wash.

Trust me, I have nothing against Easter. I’m all for celebrating Spring and rebirth, whether it’s in a religious capacity or just a natural one! Many people believe this was a pagan holiday LONG before the Christians ever made it official, anyway.

So, whether you’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, fertility and rebirth, the newly begun Spring season, zombie Jesus, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, or just really, really like eating hard-boiled eggs…here’s hoping you have a wonderful Sunday!

Oh yeah, also wanted to properly credit the artwork on this post. It can be found on El Rio’s flickr page.

Ode to the Navigator

If you happened to swing by my “About” page you’ll notice that one of the things I mentioned is the fact that I’m horrible with directions. Terry is constantly amazed how lost I can get just a a few exits from our house.

My sister and brother-in-law had been living in their house for three years and I still needed to use a navigator in order to visit them up until this past winter.

When she found out that I was plugging in her address every time I came over to run with her, she couldn’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong, she knew I had bad direction sense, but I don’t think she even realized how truly awful it was.

Although I’m speaking lightly of it, I have to tell you, I absolutely HATE the fact that I get turned around so much. It’s not for lack of trying! I think I know where I am, or that I have a pretty good idea, and then things just get jumbled up in my head and I start to doubt myself.

Or, I’ll see something that looks familiar, but I could have sworn it was in a completely different place. So, I’ll get flustered, turn around, or pull over and start to question everything I’m seeing.

There are tricks I use to help compensate for my deficiency. I memorize pathways between point A and point B. So, yes, I can find myself from my house to my grocery store or to the gas station. One of the problems, though, is that I don’t know how to connect the individual points to all the others unless I go the specific routes that I know.

For example, I can make it from my house to work. Or, I can make it from my house to the grocery store. However, it took me AGES to figure out how to make it from my work to the grocery store without first having to drive by my house.

As you can imagine, this has had a really negative impact on me. There was one time I could not for the life of me find where my salon was for a hair appointment. He was a relatively new stylist for me and I’d only gone to get my hair done with him two other times.

Actually, in my mind I remember thinking, “Hey, I’ve been there two times, I’m sure I know the way…”

Ha! Famous last words. Halfway there, things started looking unfamiliar and I was afraid I might have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I shit you not, FORTY-FIVE minutes later (along with a frantic, desperate phone call to Terry) and I finally arrived at the salon.

The stylist was very gracious about it, but I felt absolutely wretched. Needless to say, I left him a very big tip that day to make up for my extreme tardiness.

This inability to find my way out of a paper bag has also made it so that I have hesitated to accept invitations to go out or meet up with people, especially if I’d never been there before or can’t find a ride with a friend. It’s pretty pathetic when a lack of direction sense actually starts impeding my ability to go out and do things.

All of that changed when I bought my first smart phone four years ago and discovered the invention of Google Navigator. It’s so easy to use! I don’t even have to know where I’m located, the GPS can pick up where I am and start directions to wherever I want to go.

I love it!

It’s especially helpful that Google has integrated their map system with most of their searches. So, if I look up an Italian restaurant in the North End on google search, the address is usually right there as a link directly to their maps. I don’t have to try and memorize it and hope that I type it in correctly in my navigator. It does all the work for me!

I know it may sound silly, but this has made such a HUGE difference in my life. I love that I can say yes to invitations unreservedly and feel confident that I’ll actually be able to find the place to meet up.

Not only that, but I’ve recently gotten a new car that has a touch screen and bluetooth. So, not only can I get driving directions, but it will announce it through my car without me having to look down or fiddle with my phone!

Isn’t technology grand?