FOURTH AMENDMENT: NOT DEAD YET For more than 200 years, the Fourth Amendment has promised that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Unfortunately, the same members of Congress who take an oath to uphold this right frequently forget it when dealing with questions of online privacy. So they have to be prodded by activists—which is precisely what happened when the House took up the so-called Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as “Digital Big Brother,” CISPA was designed to bypass existing constitutional protections, enabling media corporations to spy on personal communications and to pass along sensitive user data to the government.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, large tech companies and their allies spent $605 million on pro-CISPA lobbying over nearly two years—140 times more than privacy advocates. But the EFF, the American Civil Liberties Union and Free Press raised a ruckus about the legislation, which the latter group warned “would obliterate our privacy laws and chill free expression online.” Thousands of Americans contacted Congress. And they were heard—not just by progressive Democrats like former House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, but by libertarian Republicans like Justin Amash of Michigan. CISPA passed the House, but those 168 “no” votes caught the attention of the Senate. The unexpectedly high level of bipartisan opposition, along with White House objections, led Senate leaders to put the bill on hold.
The ACLU says CISPA is “dead for now.” That doesn’t mean privacy rights are assured. But it does mean that citizens have a voice in debates about cyber-security legislation, and that the Fourth Amendment still has some defenders in the twenty-first century. JOHN NICHOLS
WHOSE STADIUM IS IT ANYWAY? On April 27, a ceremony to reopen Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracanã stadium revived a controversy over plans to privatize management of the arena, at the same time shedding light on who stands to profit from development projects in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Hours before President Dilma Rousseff attended an inaugural exhibition soccer match held at the stadium, which will host the World Cup final as well as the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside holding placards that read “The Maracanã is ours” and “Maracanã for whom? No to Privatization.”
Two competing business consortiums, Consórcio Maracanã SA and Consórcio Complexo Esportivo e Cultural do Rio, are vying for a thirty-five-year contract to run the stadium. An economic viability study estimates that whoever wins could profit by as much as $1.47 billion over the same period. Yet the contract dictates that the stadium’s new manager pay the state a paltry $115 million so long as it commits $233.7 million to additional renovations.
Although the government allowed one public hearing, Rio de Janeiro state governor Sergio Cabral refused to incorporate the public’s suggestions before agreeing to the terms of the contract, and the protesters object to the substantial loss of public funds as a result. Brazilian taxpayers have already invested $862 million to renovate the Maracanã since 1999.
The Maracanã contract “will be a symbol of utmost disregard for what people think and a coronation of private enterprise,” says Natalia Viana, a director of Publica, Brazil’s first investigative journalism nonprofit, which has been critical of the project. “The main problem is that there has not been enough public debate.” COS TOLLERSON
OCCUPY THE PIPELINE’S VIRAL VIDEO: Occupy the Pipeline emerged in 2012, in response to a massive new pipeline that will carry hydro-fracked gas in New York City and is being built by subsidiaries of Spectra Energy. Among other concerns, the group has warned that the Marcellus Shale, where the pipeline begins, has up to seventy times the average radioactivity of natural gas and possesses extremely high radon content. Now a new video by Occupy the Pipeline outlines other health and safety concerns about the project. The video was recently picked up by Upworthy and has so far been viewed more than 500,000 times. Go to TheNation.com to watch and share. ALLISON KILKENNY