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CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Backed By Google, Facebook

CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Backed By Google, Facebook
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The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a cybersecurity bill that that House is to vote on next week. CISPA is a different creature than SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act that the tech and online community rallied against in January due to how it would have given digital-rights holders far-reaching powers to shut down websites that were deemed to “enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. As Timothy B. Lee writes on Ars Technica, while both bills seek in some way to limit the rights of internet users, their focus is different.


SOPA was concerned with intellectual property rights and an early version of CISPA made mention of such. As Will Oremus writes on Slate, CISPA’a bill’s bipartisan sponsors, Reps. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, removed such a phrase last week. CISPA’s focus is privacy rights: The legislation is intended to protect websites and the government from hackers by giving internet companies the authority to reveal confidential records and other communications. The government and private companies would be able to share information about possible security threats, such as a malware attacks.

But as Lee points out,

Network administrators and security researchers at private firms have shared threat information with one another for decades. And the law also allows information sharing between private firms and the government in many circumstances. For example, a private company is already free to notify the FBI if it detects an attempt to hack into its network.

Laws such as the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act do regulate how and when network providers can reveal the contents of users’ electronic communications; other laws protect the privacy of health care records, financial information, educational records, video rentals and more. Lee argues that CISPA remains too broad and not sufficiently precise about what would be regulated as a potential cybersecurity threat. In its current incarnation, CISPA also does not provide for any judicial oversight to ensure that any definition of cybersecurity is followed.

Oremus lists some additional ways in which CISPA is just unclear about what kinds of materials it could authorize the government and companies to collect if they were judged threats to cybersecurity:

The bill’s current language authorizes the sharing of “information pertaining directly to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity.” Could that information include users’ names, addresses, and credit card numbers? Records of other sites they’ve visited? The bill doesn’t say. How does a company decide whether there’s enough reasonable suspicion to justify sharing a given user’s data? It doesn’t explain that either.

Who Supports CISPA: Some Companies You May Know

Supporters of CISPA include over two dozen trade associations who have lauded the “greater sharing of information” CISPA would provide in a letter to Congress (PDF). Cordell Carter, VP of the Business Roundtable, claims that CISPA enables a “sharing of cybersecurity information between the government and the private sector in a manner that is effective but not overly intrusive” (suggesting that this “sharing” is still somewhat intrusive). While the tech community made a concerted effort to defeat SOPA,the House Intelligence committee has letters of support from the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Verizon, AT&T and Intel.

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4:59PM PDT on May 1, 2012

Very informative. Thanks.

11:33AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

You have got to be kidding me. We've shown them with ACTA, SOPA and PIPA that we DO NOT WANT THEIR FREAKING CENSORSHIP! And now they're trying it again! This gives them access to everything I don't want them to have access to. If I were inclined to share my private information with them, I would GIVE it to them!

6:11AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

So much for freedom of speech.

10:54AM PDT on Apr 21, 2012


12:14AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

What I write on internet sites is always intended for public consumption, and if any of it earns me a file at the Chinese embassy, the CIA, Republican HQ, et al., it just means I hit the bullseye. But this sort of bill, and the very nature of the sites themselves, is ONE of the reasons I'd rather chew glass than join Facebook, Twitter or any other of these, to me, incomprehensible phenomena.

4:52PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Laurie; noble sentiment (really - I did not mean that sarcastically) but if you're on FB, it's already too late. Your information essentially never goes away. SO, quitting will solve nothing.

Protest CISPA, and let FB/twitter/google/et all KNOW you do NOT approve.

11:00AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Uh huh, throw the consumer under the bus for some juicy kickbacks from Creepy Uncle Sam. I will quit FB if CISPA goes through. I have been uneasy about privacy on FB as it is now, so this would definitely put me over the edge. I already communicated this to 2 CEOs Zuckerberg and Gates for Microsoft. It will be wonderful if all of you will communicate how you feel about this to all businesses supporting CISPA. If CISPA is passed, freedom as we know it is going slide down the toilet, and Uncle Sam will become Big Brother.

8:50AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

boo thumbs down

8:30AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Facebook and Google may like this but I don't. It is quite evident that privacy is quickly disappearing on the Internet and elsewhere. I don't like it and if you really care you won't like it either.

8:13AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Signed the petition.

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