Protect the Internet from the Congress

On April 18, while the media was following the story of the Boston Bombing, the U.S. House of Representatives passed CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. This is actually the second time that CISPA has passed the House.

Kurt Opsahl, Senior Staff Attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said, “CISPA is a poorly drafted bill that would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law.” Rainey Reitman, EFF Activism Director said, “This bill undermines the privacy of millions of Internet users. Hundreds of thousands of Internet users opposed this bill, joining the White House and Internet security experts in voicing concerns about the civil liberties ramifications of CISPA. We’re committed to taking this fight to the Senate and fighting to ensure no law which would be so detrimental to online privacy is passed on our watch.”

Fight for the Future reports that CISPA will allow the government to spy on you without a warrant, makes it so you can’t even find out about it after the fact, makes it so companies can’t be sued when they do illegal things with your data, allows corporations to cyber-attack each other and individuals outside of the law, and makes every privacy policy on the web a moot point, and violates the 4th amendment.

The EFF writes, “CISPA’s definition of ‘cyber threat information’ includes information directly pertaining to a threat to ‘confidentiality.’ But what does that mean? The definition encompasses measures designed for preserving ‘authorized restrictions on access,’ including means for protecting ‘proprietary information;’ [which] is not defined, and could be read to include copyrighted information. For example, one type of restriction on access that is designed to protect proprietary information is digital rights management (DRM).” The bill itself states, “Cyber threat information shared in accordance with paragraph (1)… shall be exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the `Freedom of Information Act’).”

The actual policies and procedures authorized by the bill are not known, because they will not be written until after the bill becomes law, assuming it passes the Senate and is not vetoed by President Obama. On the bright side, this bill has been killed once before; and according to a White House Statement of Administration Policy, President Obama’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill unless it is amended to include better privacy and civil liberties protections and transparent oversight .

Even with the threat of a veto, the fight against CISPA is not over, we must once again convince the Senate to kill this bill!