April 5, 2012
Due process? Probable Cause? Screw that. Some US legislators are intent on being able to monitor all of your online activity, lurking in your internets like pedobear at a playground. The bill H.R. 3523, or Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), appears to be the next brewing threat to internet privacy and freedom.
Accord to the EFF, the bill contains “sweeping language [that] would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.”
As long as “cyber security” is cited as a cause for violating your rights, the bill would apparently give a green light to governments and companies who wish to spy on user activity. ISPs, search engines and social networks would be able to make your data available to government agencies, leaving you with virtually no privacy.
“It effectively creates a “cybersecurity” exemption to all existing laws.”
A scary aspect of this bill is that it allows a company to block or modify your communication.
What does it take for an entity to claim it is spying on you because you were a potential “cyber threat”? According to the definition in the text of the bill:
(2) CYBER THREAT INTELLIGENCE- The term `cyber threat intelligence’ means 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–
`(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or
`(B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.
Aside from the ability to censor any speech that a given service does not approve of, that definition sums up the target of this bill pretty bluntly. A was written would make it easier to hunt down anyone suspect in participating in Anonymous activism and B opens hunting season on pirates of the file-sharing variety.
There’s no telling yet if this bill will be met with significant public resistance, but if the huge public response to SOPA and ACTA are any indication, a vast majority of the public do not want to suffer a violation of their rights for the benefit of a few elite anti-pirate groups. Will framing file-sharing and DDoS attacks as a major threat to “cybersecurity” be enough to convince the public to forgo their rights or will it be yet another failed propaganda campaign that ends with Chris Dodd whining about how Google and Wikipedia had a greater sphere of influence on what was actually a grass roots protest to preserve our rights and freedoms? Perhaps it will require more peer review, but my money is on the latter.