Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The CISPA Bill and the Threat to Your Rights

It hasn't been long since the SOPA bill failed in the US congress, and yet our elected officials have already brought forth a new bill:  the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act or CISPA (HR 3523).

CISPA is about sharing your information between the US government and private sector entities.  A key provision is that the bill says both the government and the private companies cannot be held liable for any harm that comes to you because of this sharing.  

Instead of getting a search warrant from a judge, this new bill allows the government to 'encourage' companies to cooperate freely in sharing your online data.  This isn't just about reading your email to make sure you're not a terrorist.  Consider the data flow when you use Internet banking, or pay your health insurance online, or read favorite news sites, or shop on eBay or Amazon, or post on Twitter, or watch funny cat videos on YouTube.  Is that anyone's business besides yours?

Yet the bill already has over 100 sponsors in the House of Representatives.  What are they thinking?

Ever notice how often you hear the words "...for security purposes..."  And not just in the airport.  We hear that a lot now.  Everything is "for security purposes."  It uses the threat of terrorism to justify the loss of privacy and individual rights, and apparently this ploy is very effective with members of Congress.

A particularly interesting point is the list of companies that supportCISPA.  Do you have phone service with ATT or Verizon? Do you have a Facebook page? Essentially, these companies are saying they don't care about protecting your data.  Other members of the list include the huge contracting companies in the military/industrial complex like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.  These companies rely on the constant flow of cash from the US government to develop new technologies and weapon systems.

If you are a US citizen, take a moment and hit this link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  It has a handy tool where you can enter your zip code and send a Twitter message to your congress person.  Or you can scroll down and read a graphic explaining CISPA. 

If you're not a US citizen, take a moment to think about the laws in your own country.  Are they making you safer, or simply giving your government more power over you?

I am against terrorism.  Attacking innocent people to achieve political or religious goals is wrong.  But in the rush to secure ourselves we are giving up our freedoms.  And governments around the world are using the threat of terrorism to exert more control over their citizens.  Trading safety for tyranny is a bad choice.

Read more at the EFF site here.

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