The Cycle
updated 4/23/2013 4:45:58 PM ET 2013-04-23T20:45:58

How the passage of CISPA could affect all of our privacy.

Siri, the iPhone app that allows users to ask it any number of questions and get a useful or often hilarious response, has predictably prompted fans of the service to get pretty creative about just how deep Siri’s knowledge base is.

One website,, posed the question, “Where can I hide a body?” to which Siri unflinchingly responded, “What kind of place are you looking for? Reservoirs, metal foundries, mines, dumps, swamps.”

Creepy, yes. Funny, sure. But also somewhat alarming given recent news.

According to reporting by Wired, those questions and commands you share with Siri can be stored on Apple servers for up to two years.

Not a problem if you just want to know where the nearest pharmacy is, but what if you want to know where the nearest bar is? Or sex club? Or you ask it – jokingly or in earnest – how to cheat on your taxes? Or your wife?

Apple insists that it can’t share that information with anyone, but that hasn’t stopped the ACLU from expressing concerns over its privacy practices.

But besides the obvious and now all-too-familiar caveat that nothing is truly private anymore, there is another reason for skepticism about Apple’s insistence that they will guard your secret conversations with Siri.

Last week, the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by a 288-127 vote. It’s packaged as a national security bill that allows private companies, like Google and Facebook, to share electronic information, like your emails and chats, with the government. It has also earned the ire of the ACLU.

CISPA enjoys bipartisan support, and disappointingly, the backing of a surprising number of Republicans, one of whom, Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, sponsored the bill and insisted it’s not a surveillance project. To his credit, President Obama has vowed to veto it.

Believe me, the irony isn’t lost on me that I find myself before you today, agreeing with President Obama and the ACLU. The question isn’t why am I? It’s why aren’t more lawmakers and political activists?

Where are the liberals who railed against the Patriot Act and expanding federal powers in response to 9/11? Where are the conservatives who champion privacy, civil liberties, and limited government?

As a national security hawk, I can surely acknowledge that cyber security is an important issue, and last week made it clear that terrorism still remains a living, breathing problem for America and the West. But that security is increasingly coming at the expense of liberty, and we should all be a little more skeptical when our beloved free society is at stake.

Shame on Democrats and Republicans for abandoning their principles.

Let’s hope CISPA dies on the Senate floor. But in the meantime, no more sexting with Siri.


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