Farewell privacy - CISPA is back

Later this week, a bill by the name of ‘CISPA’ (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is being brought back from the grave after getting unceremoniously ditched last year. The bill is being “reworked” before voting at a closed hearing by The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

The basis of the bill loosens restrictions which prevent organisations sharing your data amongst security investigators – to help fight the rise of cyber attacks, along with taking down other criminal rings with less than innocent actions.

Sounds great, but what is of concern however, is how this data could be personally identifiable and protects government institutions from being held accountable for unwarranted invasions of your privacy. This along with the “vagueness” of the bill means almost anyone can be investigated who simply uses the internet.

Clearer amendments to this year’s latest bill are more welcome; information from governments passed to companies like Facebook, for example, cannot be used for marketing or any other purpose other than preventing a security attack.

Another change may actually be the “minimisation” of personal information and requirement of it to be “stripped” from the data; something critics claim may put companies off participating altogether in the voluntary scheme.

The White House still has some problems with the bill, Representative Mike Rodgers states – “we’ve come a long way” in a Monday afternoon call with reporters, although will not elaborate further.

Rewinding to last year, the internet launched a widespread “blackout” campaign against an invasive bill known as “SOPA” (Stop Online Piracy Act) which by name sounds fair, but sure I’m not the only one who started calling it the “Stop Online Privacy Act” - for the similar extreme measures in which you can easily be monitored without explicit consent.

Many high-profile companies took part in “blacking out” their sites in protest, including – Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla and Reddit (along with a huge list of others!) the internet made a fairly unanimous decision this would be a terrible destruction to the freedom of speech and expression.

It is true we require legislation which helps ease the laws preventing governments from ultimately protecting us from online threats, and businesses from content being stolen. But this legislation needs to be clear and directly focused on the individuals who deserve investigation.

Do you feel bills such as CISPA and SOPA are necessary in face of cyber attacks? How comfortable do you feel being investigated online without your consent, or perhaps without warrant?

 

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