This is “cybersecurity week,” according to Brock Meeks at Wired.com when CISPA (the Orwellian-named Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is scheduled to move to the House floor for a vote. Offered originally before SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and its sister PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were blown up in January, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich., photo) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) have offered some amendments to the bill (H.R. 3523) to soften some of its critics and to avoid the same result.
The primary problem, according to Meeks, is that it tries to kill a flea with a baseball bat: Any alleged security the bill offers against potential hackers “comes at the expense of unfettered government access to our personal information, which is then likely to be sucked into the secretive black hole of the spying complex known as the National Security Agency.”
Despite some window dressing by Mssrs. Rogers and Ruppersberger, the bill still has major problems. First it has “an overly broad, almost unlimited definition of the information [that] can be shared [by private Internet companies] with government agencies.” It overrides existing federal or state privacy laws with its language that says information between private and public agencies is shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
In addition, the bill would create a “backdoor wiretap program” because the information being shared isn’t limited specifically to issues of cybersecurity but could be used for any other purpose as well. The language is unclear about what would trigger a CISPA investigation: “efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy” a network. Would that apply to someone innocently downloading a large file — a movie, perhaps — that is perceived, under the bill, to be an “effort to degrade, disrupt or destroy” a network?
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