Mar 26, 2013

How can we stop the latest resurrection of CISPA?

After being pushed back last year, CISPA is back again. The head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) even tweeted that pro-CISPA forces donated 15 times more money to committee members than anti-CISPA groups. I can't compete with AT&T et al to buy votes, so what can we do? I've written my Congressman, and in response got a letter thanking me for my concern about cybersecurity and a promise to take steps to ensure America is secure. Did they even read my letter?!?! So if we don't have the money to match large Fortune 100 companies, and our representatives read letters opposed to CISPA as support for it, what is left to do? Any ideas?


Turns out all we had to do was wait for it to get to the US Senate. Unless it is something to keep them from waiting in line at the airport due to delays caused by the laws THEY passed, the odds are against a bill even being able to get an up or down vote. In this case, it worked out for the better and it looks like CISPA is not going to happen anytime soon.

Here's a good overview of CISPA:

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

"The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a proposed law in the United States which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and certain technology and manufacturing companies. The stated aim of the bill is to help the U.S government investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattack.[1]

CISPA has been criticized by advocates of Internet privacy and civil liberties, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Avaaz.org. Those groups argue CISPA contains too few limits on how and when the government may monitor a private individual’s Internet browsing information. Additionally, they fear that such new powers could be used to spy on the general public rather than to pursue malicious hackers.[2][3]

CISPA has garnered favor from corporations and lobbying groups such as Microsoft, Facebook and the United States Chamber of Commerce, which look on it as a simple and effective means of sharing important cyber threat information with the government.[4]

Some critics saw CISPA as a second attempt at strengthening digital piracy laws after the anti-piracy Stop Online Piracy Act became deeply unpopular.[5] Intellectual property theft was initially listed in the bill as a possible cause for sharing Web traffic information with the government, though it was removed in subsequent drafts.[6]

The legislation was introduced on November 30, 2011 by U.S. Representative Michael Rogers (R-MI) and 111 co-sponsors.[7][8] It was passed in the House of Representatives on April 26, 2012, but was not passed by the U.S. Senate.[9] President Obama's advisers have argued that the bill lacks confidentiality and civil liberties safeguards and they advise the president to veto it.[10] In February 2013 the bill was reintroduced in the House.[11]"

I know it can feel like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, but basically you can do the classic things: contact your congressman and senator. As the tweet you mentioned suggests, the voice of individuals may not mean much to a lot of politicians compared to corporations with a river of cash, but it is still the best option we have. You could also donate to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the main organization who fights this sort of thing, I suppose. Speaking of the EFF, they have a link where you can contact your congressman/senator, but I think a telephone call and/or physical letter is more effective. Still, it's better than nothing. Oh, and I also suggest you remember what they do when you are in the voting booth next election. 


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