The newest internet security legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), is being compared to the recently-struck-down and much criticized Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which engendered blackouts from sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit. But is CISPA really as bad as SOPA?
I don’t know if we can say it is worse or better than SOPA, only that it’s… different. CISPA is different from SOPA, although its degree of civil rights infringement can be argued. SOPA was primarily about censoring sites that hosted copyright-infringing material; the government was allowed to ‘blackout’ entire sites that had any infringing material immediately, essentially guaranteeing blackouts of sites like Youtube and Reddit. CISPA is primarily about government monitoring if your data. I don’t know if you can draw a correlation between the two, unless you’re talking about basic civil liberty infringement.
According to a recent USNews article, CISPA’s main goal is this:
Foreign governments and independent hackers are stealing information from American corporations all the time, costing the companies billions of dollars. The government knows how to stop these attacks and wants to help out private companies, but the current law doesn’t allow them to share classified information with private companies. CISPA would open that pipeline, but it would be a two way street—the way the bill is written, companies can share users’ information with the government if they sense a “cyber threat.”
Many proponents of the bill claim that they can only share information with the government as it pertains to an attack on their cyber security, but the wording in the bill is very vague. Vagueness always lends itself to interpretation which, inevitably, will favor the government, as they are the interpreters. The bill also doesn’t require the government to share secrets with the companies, but many fear this will become a bargaining tool for the government, an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ type of deal.
Regardless of the content, basic privacy is being violated here if CISPA passes. Let’s all get together and say ‘NO’ to CISPA.