CISPA: another privacy nightmare?

If you haven't heard of it yet, CISPA is the latest piece of proposed legislation that's causing an uproar among privacy and civil liberties advocates, as well as defenders of the free internet everywhere. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act is a bipartisan bill that essentially encourages ISPs to work together with the government to keep tabs on users who could pose a 'cybersecurity threat' – or just happens to pirate a file, according to TorrentFreak.

Even though some people have described it as the new SOPA, that's just rhetoric. But even though the bills have almost nothing in common, that doesn't make them any less of a problem. Whereas SOPA was unabashedly targeting piracy (for the record, that wasn't the problem with it; the ends didn't justify the means), CISPA is focused on protecting private and government networks from hackers and more nebulous threats (which, once again, isn't the problem).

Despite containing a few provisions targeting piracy, which we'll get to in a minute, most criticism of CISPA is aimed at the privacy nightmare it threatens to create. Despite co-sponsor Mike Rogers describing the bill to Huffington Post as 'non-invasive,' a legislative counsel at the ACLU called it “a new backdoor around the Fourth Amendment... ,” which protects against unwarranted searches. “This is a whole new surveillance program,” she warned.

So, what's not to love about the bill? According to a summary from the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, the bill “[encourages] the sharing of [cyber threat intelligence].” Privacy advocates are concerned that this could mean that ISPs would end up sifting through web traffic looking for such threats. The bill also encourages sharing of information involving a “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.”

Now, hacking, especially 'serious' hacking between governments, is no doubt a serious problem, but CISPA seems to be going down the same road as SOPA, due to overly intrusive provisions in a bill that tries to address problems that otherwise need to be reasonably addressed. What's even more disturbing is that CISPA seems to not only permit, but even encourages, companies to actively spy on consumers. Since it doesn't require a warrant, CISPA could potentially lead to ISPs trying to seek out crime, rather than simply reporting truly reasonable threats. A statement from the Electronic Frontier Foundation hits the nail right on the head:

“That means a company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or AT&T could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop cybersecurity threats.”

There's a whole host of issues at stake here, but if Congress really does want to pass legislation to protect against cybersecurity threats and yes, even piracy, they would be wise to take the advice given by Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council , to Huffington Post, who would “encourage the Congress to craft information sharing legislation carefully with robust protections to safeguard civil liberties and privacy.” As it is, CISPA could go before Congress as early as the week of April 23rd.

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8 Comments

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seems to be going about this in the wrong way why not hook your anti hacking crap upto the servers that are getting hacked into instead of using this as an excuse to spy on the general population or perhaps the US govt just believes everyone is guilty until proven innocent

Athlonite said,
seems to be going about this in the wrong way why not hook your anti hacking crap upto the servers that are getting hacked into instead of using this as an excuse to spy on the general population or perhaps the US govt just believes everyone is guilty until proven innocent
The sad part is, if you want to get away from the kind of authoritarian governments that every country is becoming you'd have to buy your own island and establish it as sovereign land. But even then whatever nation you buy the island from will claim they still have jurisdiction over it and spy/arrest like crazy. If people think this is false, they need to explain why the FBI was in Iraq. Or why the FBI arrested a citizen from one EU nation on another EU nations soil.

knighthawk said,
CISPA: another privacy nightmare?
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Yes. Contact your representatives.

Problem is like SOPA this is a law that is being decided on in the US but has the potential to affect those outside the US as the datacentre that hold our emails or other data may reside there. It also smacks of bribery as the bills are usually sponsored by media companies who have large financial investments...I mean campaign donations to those who lobby the hardest in favour of these idiotic bills. Soon the land of the brave and the so called free will be the land of the brave and the shhhhh someone might hear you...

Whenever I read about "bipartisan" acts, I have to think of this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baboon

(baboon = "Pavian" in German )

That's what often enough those acts are. Monkey shi**.
Not all of them, but boy, you'd wish (read: WISH, not expect ) that if the opposition joins your efforts it's somewhat sensible in the eyes of their voters...

GS:mac

The future of the web: Web 3.0... Content filtering, where there are no blogs, facebook, youtube, google... just a "Could not locate remote server" page.

Sigh*

Yawn. In before another useless hype.

Anyone using Facebook Mail or Google Mail should know they are not the only person having access to the content of their emails. If you truly need to send confident material there are other means than using Facebook Mail or Google Mail.

Jueki said,
Yawn. In before another useless hype.

Anyone using Facebook Mail or Google Mail should know they are not the only person having access to the content of their emails. If you truly need to send confident material there are other means than using Facebook Mail or Google Mail.

"Other people at spying on me, therefore it's okay?" As far as I know, GMail only has computers parse your email for advertising proposes which, while still creepy, isn't on the same level as having other humans read it. Email should be treated with the same amount of privacy as 'real' mail.