CISPA may not be the new SOPA… but it’s just as bad
A lot of people on the net lately have been pushing the idea that CISPA is the new SOPA. That may be overstating things a bit, but it doesn’t change the fact that CISPA is yet another bad piece of legislation penned by people who seem to have no clue about how the internet works.
First… the reason people are calling it the “new SOPA”.
CISPA, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (also known as H.R. 3523), defines “cyber threat intelligence” and “cybersecurity purpose” to include “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.” Essentially, it is saying that “theft” of intelectual property (i.e. piracy) can constitute a cybersecurity threat. While the primary purpose of the bill has nothing to do with IP and copyright, it is so vaguely worded that it would allow an internet service provider (ISP) to monitor users for potential copyright infringement.
Coupled with the MPAA’s recent “6 strikes” deal with the U.S.’s major ISPs, CISPA unintentionally (or perhaps completely intentionally, all things considered) gives ISPs unfettered ability to police the internet, shut off service to people accused (not convicted) of infringement, and block access to sites accused of infringing.
Perhaps even more frightening though, is the fact that, at its core, CISPA is a blatant attack on online privacy. The bill has an almost unlimited definition of the types of information that can be made available to government agencies. On top of that, it supercedes all existing privacy laws. It also does not limit the use of any shared information… meaning that a government agency would be able to request your information under the veil of a cybersecurity threat, and then use that information for something completely unrelated. Serveral experts have stated that CISPA is a clear violation of the 4th ammendment.
In a somewhat surprising move, Facebook has come out in support of CISPA (though, given their general attitude toward privacy, maybe it’s not so surprising after all). DemandProgress.org has started a campaign to urge Facebook to withdraw that support.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has set up an easy way to write to your representatives in Congress, and I strongly urge anyone concerned about the welfare of the internet to do so.