Yesterday, in a 248-168 vote, Congress passed H.R. 3523, the little discussed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (a.k.a., CISPA, a.k.a. the Rogers-Rupperberger Cybersecurity law). At first compared to SOPA and PIPA, CISPA includes an intellectual property component. Proponents, however, insist its purpose is to eradicate information sharing road-blocks between social networking platforms and Internet service providers.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, CISPA would make it legal for social media platforms to give personal information about users to the government. In an effort to thwart digital security threats, CISPA would also make it possible for government agencies to share classified information with networks.
What IS CISPA, Who Supports It And Why?
An amendment to the National Security Act of 1947, CISPA’s primary purpose is to allow for information sharing between private entities (i.e., social networking platforms and Internet service providers) and federal agencies.
CISPA defines a cyber-threat as any “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.” It also asserts that a “threat” could be the “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property or personally identifiable information (PII).”
CISPA supporters insist the bill’s mention of intellectual property has nothing to do with downloading Mp3s and movies, but instead only refers to “research and development” data (i.e., corporate and government secrets).
Also, unlike SOPA and PIPA, CISPA is backed by several power-house tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Verizon – most of whom vehemently opposed SOPA and PIPA. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the majority of Republican representatives in Congress also support the Act. All have different reasons for backing CISPA. Perhaps some of the IT companies fancy having access to classified information; maybe CISPA supporters truly believe it’s the best bill to combat cyber terrorism.
Father of the Internet, Tim Berners Lee, Representative Ron Paul, the White House and The Constitution Project are amongst CISPA’s opponents. All believe the bill threatens personal privacy rights.
Will CISPA Be Used To Prosecute Pirates?
According to CISPA advocates, the law will not be used to go after illegal downloaders, but is that really the case?
Bill backers insist they’re only concerned with material related to cyber criminality and espionage, yet they fail to define parameters for each. As a result, it’s possible that the government will declare an element of a given bit-torrent file germane to an electronic threat, and bingo, information about the “seeds” could be handed over under the auspices of CISPA.
They say they won’t do that, though.
Since CISPA includes a provision that allows citizens to sue the Federal Government for misusing any data obtained through CISPA, it will be interesting to see, if it’s passed, whether or not they try to use the bill to thwart online piracy, and if in doing so end up getting sued because of it.
Will CISPA Make It To The Law Books?
Congress gave CISPA the stamp of approval yesterday, but will it become a law?
The White House has already said they will veto the bill in its current state; moreover, the Senate is a cyber-security kill joy – it’s known as the place where cybercrime bills go to die. If the trend continues, CISPA may have seen its hay-day yesterday and will soon be thrown in the “abandoned bills” pile.
Still, civil liberty watchdog groups are sounding the CISPA warning bell in the hopes of garnering public outrage against the act, like they did for SOPA and PIPA.
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