CISPA Replaces SOPA As Internet’s Enemy No. 1 (Must Read)
The Internet has a new enemy. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA), also known as H.R. 3523, is a “cybersecurity” bill in the House of Representatives. While CISPA does not focus primarily on intellectual property (though that’s in there, too), critics say the problems with the bill run just as deep.
As with SOPA and PIPA, the first main concern about CISPA is its “broad language,” which critics fear allows the legislation to be interpreted in ways that could infringe on our civil liberties. The Center for Democracy and Technology sums up the problems with CISPA this way:
• The bill has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies notwithstanding privacy and other laws;
• The bill is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications as a result of this sharing;
• It is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military;
• Once the information is shared with the government, it wouldn’t have to be used for cybesecurity, but could instead be used for any purpose that is not specifically prohibited.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) adds that CISPA’s definition of “cybersecurity” is so broad that “it leaves the door open to censor any speech that a company believes would ‘degrade the network.’”
Moreover, the inclusion of “intellectual property” means that companies and the government would have “new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement.”
Furthermore, critics warn that CISPA gives private companies the ability to collect and share information about their customers or users with immunity — meaning we cannot sue them for doing so, and they cannot be charged with any crimes.
According to the EFF, CISPA “effectively creates a ‘cybersecurity’ exemption to all existing laws.”
“There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by ‘cybersecurity purposes.’” the EFF continues.
“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.”