Why CISPA Could Do More Harm Than Good
Are you familiar with theÂ Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act? The bill, which is more commonly known as CISPA, is getting a considerable amount of criticism from both Internet and consumer advocates. Many of these groups are equating it withÂ SOPAÂ and are hoping that it will receive theÂ same outcome.
CISPA, and other cybersecurity bills, has recently become front and center as cyber threats have grown more prevalent. Numerous lawmakers are pushing for legislation in hopes of lessening the concerns.
But, what would CISPA actually do? And, would it have the same impact that SOPA would have had? According to the bill itself, the goal is:
â€œTo provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities, and for other purposes.â€
How do you feel about CISPA? Are you for or against it? Why or Why not?Â Please share.
Aside from the Internet-related legislation, CISPA is not very similar to SOPA. CISPA is geared toward cybersecurity concerns and, primarily, the sharing of cyber threat information between the private sector and the government. SOPA, on the other hand, was focused on intellectual property and was pushed by the entertainment industry to address piracy issues.
â€œThe bills donâ€™t have many similarities beyond the basic idea that they are both forms of government overreach,â€Â Ryan Radia, the Associate Director of Technology Studies at theÂ Competitive Enterprise InstituteÂ (CEI), told WebProNews.
The reason, however, that so many have associated the bills with each other is due to the implications they would have. According to Radia, the basis of CISPA is well intentioned, but the wording of it is dangerous.
As he explained to us, even though the bill has had multiple amendments, it is still too vague. The main controversy is in how â€œcyber threat informationâ€ would be interpreted and, also, what the government would do with it.
â€œThe information that you hand over to, say, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc., may have some nexus to a so-called cyber threat â€“ that information could end up in the governmentâ€™s hands not only for use in fighting off cyber attacks, but for use in, say, run of the mill criminal prosecutions,â€ said Radia.
For instance, he told us that language such as â€œunauthorized accessâ€ could not only apply to hackers, but that it could also apply to usersâ€™ stretching the truth online. In other words, it could give the government access to Facebook users that lie about their age or to people that use their employerâ€™s computers to watch YouTube videos.
â€œShould lying about your age and weight on an online dating site be a federal crime?â€ asked Radia. â€œI donâ€™t think soâ€¦ this bill doesnâ€™t make it a crime but gives government access to information that could relate to such crimes.â€
With this broad language, CISPA could drastically change all existing laws pertaining to criminal, civil, statutory, contractual, and various other cases. Although the government would not be able to use the information it receives for regulation purposes, Radia told us that CISPA would be a â€œprosecutorâ€™s dreamâ€ since they could avoid obtaining court orders and other forms of red tape.
As a result of these implications, privacy activists believe CISPA is aÂ violation of consumer privacy rights. Radia agrees saying it poses â€œa very real risk to privacy.â€
â€œUnder CISPA, we could see a whole host of information being shared with the government in ways that do represent a very real threat to privacy and that offend the basic 4th Amendment principle that we should be free from unreasonable searches,â€ said Radia.
There are numerous petitions to stop CISPA, including one fromÂ Demand ProgressÂ and one fromAvaaz. TheÂ Electronic Frontier FoundationÂ (EFF) has also been particularly outspoken about the harm CISPA would bring and even launched a campaign last weekÂ in protest of the bill. The EFF is hoping to give the government too much information in the form of itsÂ CongressTMI hashtagÂ in order to â€œshowcase the types of unnecessary private data that could be swept up under CISPA.â€
While these campaigns to stop CISPA are reminiscent of theÂ Internet blackout in JanuaryÂ in protest of SOPA, the Internet community has been less than active in regards to this latest piece of legislation. If you recall, almost every corner of the Internet had some form of protest from Reddit going darkÂ to the Internet communityÂ creating memes in protest of SOPA.
About the Author:
Abby Johnson is a reporter for WebProNews.
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