These past few years have been rife with internet censorship bills, including SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and now CISPA. While most of these privacy bills have been destroyed in their early stages, it seems changing the name and a little bit of the language is enough for a re-check.
CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Share and Protection Act, passed through the House of Representatives earlier this month and is now on its way to the Senate. Weirdly, this is the second time CISPA has come about and only has a few minor changes.
What is CISPA?
The plan with CISPA is the government will have a dedicated role in cyber security and will be able to work with Internet service providers and websites and gain access to personal information if it involves cyber security.
This will allow social networks, technology companies, and ISPs to share data with the government whenever the government raises an appeal to a particular website or company.
Information involving cyber security will be passed onto the government and the government will have easier access to information regarding threats.
CISPA will also allow information to be gathered for other purposes, including protection from death or serious injury; protection of minors from harm; protection of United States national security.
Facebook and Microsoft reasons for supporting
The main reason for both Facebook and Microsoft supporting CISPA is it takes pressure away from the two companies to regulate user content and make sure they report any threatening activity.
With CISPA, the control moves to a government – making it less likely Facebook or Microsoft will be sued for breaking Terms of Service, which includes reporting all cyber security activity.
For Facebook, this is just a simple way to make sure the government acts on information given and keeps the process away from their company, which could get them into trouble.
We have yet to hear from any other companies supporting the bill, Wikimedia is still overlooking it, but we suspect the company will go against the idea of handing over private user information.
Twitter and Google have yet to give any response to CISPA – we expect Twitter to stick away from the bill, Google may see the plus sides to the idea, although their Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has always been against internet regulation.
Internet still against CISPA
The vast majority of internet activists and even The White House is still against CISPA, even in its current form. The idea of having more government sharing may be helpful for Facebook and Microsoft, but the language and broadness is what still keeps many away.
Helping cyber security is great, however, the question is where the line between government cyber security and what the rest of us believe to be cyber security is. Many opposing the CISPA bill believe the information will be too freely given away.
The proposition is the government will handle all cyber security threats in the same manner they help security in the real world. They police have a lot of free access to medical records and other personal information if it is seen as a security threat.
With this broadness and language style, it seems CISPA real initiative is to make sure they can easily tap into someone’s private information on any cyber network.
Thankfully, it seems the support for the act is limited and if the White House is already against the move we doubt the Senate will accept it. Then again, support on the inside and in political groups seems to be growing.
Whatever the case, this will only deter yet another act with some change in the rules, but the big idea is getting government a better platform to handle cyber security.