FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 5, 2020
No wonder Daines won’t stand up for Montanans’ privacy – over the course of his time in Washington D.C., Daines has accepted $140,000 from the telecommunications services industry.
Once again, Daines is more focused on looking out for his big corporate donors rather than doing what’s right by Montana. It’s clear that Daines is not working for us.
The Montana Post: Steve Daines Has Repeatedly Undermined the Privacy of Montanans, Even Working with the NSA During Its Abuses
By Don Pogreba
“If there is one value that Montana Republicans and Democrats share, it is respect for the right to privacy and a corresponding vehement opposition to that right being threatened by government or corporations. Despite that shared Montana value, Steve Daines, in both his professional career and work in Congress, has undermined the right to privacy for both children and adults—and even helped the NSA at precisely the same time it was spying on Americans.
Back in 2017, we reported that Daines, just months after issuing a press release about the virtues of Internet privacy, voted for a measure that allowed Internet Service Providers to sell our information without our consent.
A former staffer for the FCC explains the consequences of that Daines vote:
The consequences of repeal are simple: ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter will be free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission — and no one will be able to protect you. The Federal Trade Commission has no legal authority to oversee ISP practices, and the bill under consideration ensures that the FCC cannot adopt “substantially similar” rules. So unless the bill fails in the House, the nation’s strongest privacy protections will not only be eliminated, they cannot be revived by the FCC.
Back home in Montana, Governor Bullock worked with Republican Legislator Ryan Osmundson to restore our privacy protections, signing an appropriations bill containing language prohibiting ISPS from collecting and selling our private information without our consent.
As a member of the House, Daines also voted against a bill that would prevent the federal government or employers from demanding that people disclose their social media passwords.
Long-time readers of this blog may recall how Montanans and people worldwide responded to the City of Bozeman when it announced that job applicants would have to turn over their social media passwords. The Guardian named the city its “civil liberties villain of the week” before Bozeman walked back the policy, one that Daines would support only four years later in Congress.
That disrespect for privacy rights did not come out of nowhere; nor was it entirely motivated by the $140,000 Daines has taken from telecom companies during his time in Congress. As a senior executive at RightNow Technologies, Daines played a central role in its opposition to privacy for children online and its relationship with the NSA.
In addition to his sales responsibilities, Daines, in his own words, “ran the hosting operations for a number of years” at RightNow as the company began to transition from companies hosting its software on their own servers to an early version of the cloud.
And RightNow did not want privacy protections written into the law. During SEC filings almost every year, the company identified privacy regulations as a threat to “market acceptance of [their] products,” citing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, designed to protect financial transactions and even the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, claiming that both could hurt RightNow market share.
And RightNow even assisted the National Security Administration (NSA) while Daines led sales for the company. As early as 2005, RightNow claimed that it was contracting with the NSA and even noted that it was their first federal government contract.
And, as we all now know, the NSA was involved in a program of spying on Americans that went far beyond the law, threatening the civil liberties of every American who used the Internet or placed a call during the Bush Administration and one of the strategies at the center of that spying was farming out the business to companies that collected data from consumers. From Wired in 2004:
Data aggregators – companies that aggregate information from numerous private and public databases – and private companies that collect information about their customers are increasingly giving or selling data to the government to augment its surveillance capabilities and help it track the activities of people.
Because laws that restrict government data collection don’t apply to private industry, the government is able to bypass restrictions on domestic surveillance. Congress needs to close such loopholes, the ACLU said, before the exchange of information gets out of hand.
It certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable for Montanans to ask Daines to explain his work for the NSA while at RightNow. Given his willingness to work for the authoritarian Chinese government, it would hardly be a stretch to imagine him working to undermine the rights of Americans during the Bush Administration.
Whether it’s been in the public or private sector, Steve Daines has tirelessly working to undermine the privacy rights of Montanans, whether they are children accessing the Internet, workers seeking a job, and even citizens hoping to use the Internet without fear of government surveillance.
Daines is wrong on privacy and wrong for Montana.”
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