CISPA — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — passed the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 248 to 168. The Senate is now considering the measure. If it passes, it’s not clear it will become law, since President Obama has threatened to veto it.
Where SOPA was created to combat piracy, CISPA is intended improve information sharing in order to guard against “cyber threats.” It’s actually an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947.
CISPA covers national security issues and allows government agencies to collect and share private data without the use of warrants. It also describes roles for for private companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook, requiring them to share information if there’s the claim of a cyber threat.
What’s a cyber threat? The bill defines it like this:
… information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from either ‘efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network’; or ‘theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.
In other words, if torrent clients share files across the Web, the government can share and use it.
(B) SELF-PROTECTED ENTITIES- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes–
(i) use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property of such self-protected entity; and
(ii) share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government.
Sounds like a good candidate for an anti-SOPA-like online protest. Indeed, there are well-organized opponents, like the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, the libertarian-leaning TechFreedom, and AVAAZ.
But… This time around companies and business groups like AT&T, the CTIA, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec and Verizon all support the measure.
Scary? There’s still time to write your senator.