CISPA, Your Privacy and Why You Should Care

Big Brother is Watching You

SOPA, PIPA and ACTA are gone. Say Hello to CISPA.

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.

Image: Wikipedia

No Responses to “CISPA, Your Privacy and Why You Should Care”

  1. Considering that the word “Cyber” originally meant a system automatically controlled by feedback from its results, calling this bill a “Cybersecurity” initiative is a bit amusing. CISPA is designed with no oversight of controls against inappropriate use—no feedback loop. The actual implementation of the bill would be akin to treating a gastrointestinal infection with Drano. There are already enough cases of people whose lives are permanently negatively affected by information that should be kept private being leaked either intentionally (by themselves or enemies) or unintentionally (by cracking systems or hard drives being lost with unencrypted databases on them). Adding the incentive of being immune from prosecution amounts to coercion. Seeing the sad state of politics in this country that has sunk so low that lawmakers charged with preventing the powerful from using their power against the powerless, would include a provision encouraging it, shows how lost in the woods they are.
    Call it what you will, as long as we let them frame the political discourse as “acting to protect citizens and children” instead of shifting the discourse into what it really is: “acts to control citizens and strip privacy with no oversight of that pesky ‘activist*’ judicial branch.” Then the people that want to control us will win.

    *“Activist” in this case means “acting to follow the Bill of Rights by actually protecting actual rights.” The legislature is so unused to a government body doing its job as defined, that one actually doing it must be “corrupt.” right?

    • I couldn’t agree more. If this becomes a law, I don’t even want to think about the consequences (maybe people from Iran, Siria, Nord Korea, China could say more about this).
      It’s like a bad dream come true. Everything you do, will be monitored.