CISPA is Dead; Long Live Freedom of Speech

CISPA – the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives last week, was tabled by the U.S. Senate today.  On Monday, there was a call for a blackout of the Internet in protest of CISPA.  Ultimately, 917 websites participated.

However the protests of SOPA (the Stop Online Privacy Act) and PIPA (the Protect IP Act) in January 2012 drew thousands of protesting websites, including Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and  The online protest of CISPA was so much smaller because many of the major companies actually support the bill.

Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon support CISPA because it removes the burden of monitoring users’ activity.  Had CISPA passed, sites could give any potentially threatening information they wanted to the government, who would then deal with it.  The site would not have been sued for breaking its terms of service.  How very convenient.

While CISPA could have made a service provider’s day-to-day operations and monitoring easier, it would have put users’ personal information at risk, especially since a proposed amendment to the bill, preventing employers from asking for employees’ Facebook passwords.  Even Obama threatened to veto the bill.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jay Rockefeller said CISPA’s passage was “important,” but its “privacy protections are insufficient.”

The bill would have allowed the federal government to share classified “cyber threat” information with companies, but it also provided provisions that would have allowed companies to share information about specific users with the government. Privacy advocates also worried that the National Security Administration would have gotten involved.

That’s not to say Congress won’t pass any cybersecurity legislation this year. Both Rockefeller and President Obama want to give American companies additional tools to fight back against cyberattacks from domestic and foreign hackers.

Obama threatened to veto the bill and the Senate tabled it.  That doesn’t mean Big Brother doesn’t favor listening in and squelching free speech.  It’s just that enough free speech got out there, making citizens keenly aware of the freedom they were about to lose, to cause an uproar that silenced CISPA instead of free speech.

Congress is working on separate cybersecurity to bills to address such issues as hackers and terrorists.

Score one for the First Amendment!





Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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