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Dave Olson, Published October 25 2012

Concordia Republicans, GOP candidate

MOORHEAD – Lee Byberg, Republican candidate for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District House seat, took part in an event Thursday hosted by the Concordia College Republicans.

Byberg talked about the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.

The former is a proposed law that would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the government and technology companies.

The latter is a law that defines the budget of the Department of Defense that includes additional provisions, one of which allows the government to hold terror suspects indefinitely without trial.

Byberg described the provision, which he said could be applied to American citizens, as an erosion of freedoms, a point of view shared by a federal judge who recently issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the provision from being enforced.

Byberg said CISPA and the controversial provision in the defense authorization act sacrifice liberty in the name of security.

“It goes to the issue of how do we weigh freedom versus security?” Byberg said.

The Concordia students expressed their concerns about CISPA by wearing blue tape over their mouths, signifying the chilling effect they fear the law could have on free speech.

Kate Engstrom, president of the Concordia College Republicans, said the group was protesting Internet “censorship acts like CISPA, which ultimately limit the freedoms of American citizens online.”

“I think maybe they have good intent,” she added, “but ultimately they will limit our freedoms and that can spill over into areas where people are not doing anything wrong and still being penalized.”

Engstrom said one point of Thursday’s event was to educate students on where the candidates stood on the issues.

She said Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson “did specifically vote for this. I think he co-wrote it,” she said, referring to CISPA.

Byberg said Peterson also voted for the National Defense Authorization Act.

Contacted by phone, Peterson said both pieces of legislation were essentially Republican bills, particularly the latest National Defense Authorization Act, which he said cements policies put in place during the last Bush administration.

Peterson said he voted for CISPA based on endorsements from House intelligence committee members he trusts.

“This is not focused on average citizens,” he said, adding that similar legislation has helped disrupt terrorist plans.

Peterson said the defense authorization act contained pay increases for troops and other things he could get behind.

“These bills all have something in them we don’t like, but you have to look at the bigger picture,” Peterson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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