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Apr 29 2012

Stop CISPA: What You Need to Know

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

CISPA, the cyber-security bill which threatens individual privacy rights on the internet, has passed the House, ignoring a possible veto, and will go to the Senate:

On a bipartisan vote of 248-168, the Republican-controlled House backed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa), which would encourage companies and the federal government to share information collected on the internet to prevent electronic attacks from cybercriminals, foreign governments and terrorists.

“This is the last bastion of things we need to do to protect this country,” Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said after more than five hours of debate. [..]

The White House, along with a coalition of liberal and conservative groups and lawmakers, strongly opposed the measure, complaining that Americans’ privacy could be violated. They argued that companies could share an employee’s personal information with the government, data that could end up in the hands of officials from the National Security Agency or the defence department. They also challenged the bill’s liability waiver for private companies that disclose information, complaining it was too broad.

“Once in government hands, this information can be used for undefined ‘national security’ purposes unrelated to cybersecurity,” a coalition that included the American Civil Liberties Union and former conservative Republican representative Bob Barr, lawmakers said on Thursday.

CISPA Critics Warn Cybersecurity Bill Will Increase Domestic Surveillance and Violate Privacy Rights

As it heads toward a House vote, critics say the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) would allow private internet companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft to hand over troves of confidential customer records and communications to the National Security Agency, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, effectively legalizing a secret domestic surveillance program already run by the NSA. Backers say the measure is needed to help private firms crackdown on foreign entities – including the Chinese and Russian governments – committing online economic espionage. The bill has faced widespread opposition from online privacy advocates and even the Obama administration, which has threatened a veto. “CISPA … will create an exception to all existing privacy laws so that companies can share very sensitive and personal information directly with the government, including military agencies like the National Security Agency,” says Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Once the government has it, they can repurpose it and use it for a number of things, including an undefined national security use.” [includes rush transcript]

Think Progress has a summery of what we need to know  about CISPA to fight to stop its passage:

  • CISPA’s broad language will likely give the government access to anyone’s personal information with few privacy protections: CISPA allows the government access to any “information pertaining directly to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity.” [..]
  • It supersedes all other provisions of the law protecting privacy: As the bill is currently written, CISPA would apply “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” [..]
  • The bill completely exempts itself from the Freedom of Information Act: Citizens and journalists have access to most things the government does via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a key tool for increasing transparency.
  • [..]

  • CISPA gives companies blanket immunity from future lawsuits: One of the most egregious aspects of CISPA is that it gives blanket legal immunity to any company that shares its customers’ private information.
  • [..]

  • Recent revisions don’t go nearly far enough: In an attempt to specify how the government can use the information they collect, the House passed an amendment saying the data can only be used for: “1) cybersecurity; 2) investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes; 3) protection of individuals from the danger of death or physical injury; 4) protection of minors from physical or psychological harm; and 5) protection of the national security of the United States.”
  • Citizens have to trust that companies like Facebook won’t share your personal information: CISPA does not force companies share private user information with the government. {..] Companies may not be legally required to turn over information, but they “may not be in a position to say no.”
  • Companies can already inform the government and each other about incoming cybersecurity threats: {..} opponents of the bill point out that “network administrators and security researchers at private firms have shared threat information with one another for decades.”
  • The internet is fighting back: The same online activists who fought hard against SOPA are now engaged in the battle over CISPA.
  • Most Republicans support CISPA, while most Democrats oppose it: Among congressmen that voted, 88 percent of Republicans supported the bill while 77 percent of Democrats opposed it.
  • President Obama threatened to veto it: Recognizing the threat to civil liberties that CISPA poses, President Obama announced this week that he “strongly opposes” the bill and has threatened to veto if it comes to his desk.
  • Join the Fight to Stop CISPA! Sign the petition:

    Save the Internet from the US

    Write your Senators

    Tell Congress: Keep My Inbox Away From the Government

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