Internet Uproar: CISPA
In another attempt to legislate digital security, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is scheduled for vote in the House of Representatives this Thursday.
Before we go any further, let me just state that cyber security should definitely be a top priority in today’s digital age. The Internet is a great and beautiful thing, but now that nearly everything has a wifi connection (even refrigerators), steps need to be taken in order to ensure that the web is a safe place.
With that said, CISPA is the wrong way to go about cyber security.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said in a recent press release:
“Without important, immediate changes to American cybersecurity policy, I believe our country will continue to be at risk for a catastrophic attack to our nation’s vital networks – networks that power our homes, provide our clean water or maintain the other critical services we use every day.”
Bear in mind that CISPA has little to do with SOPA, which we covered in a previous post here. SOPA’s biggest issue was that it infringed upon the first amendment; CISPA infringes upon the fourth.
What Does CISPA Legalize?
I recommend reading the bill in its entirety, but to summarize, CISPA legalizes the transfer of online information that is considered a threat to the government, private security agencies, and private companies. What defines a “threat” is open to interpretation; CISPA’s wording is painfully vague, which opens up too many possibilities for abuse.
These possibilities for abuse create a situation where the government and private companies are able to delve into personal information without having to worry about judicial oversight. It’s very Orwellian, very open-ended, and very much the wrong way to approach legal and ethical cyber security.
Once again, we’ve run into the issue of vague wording. This issue has plagued previous attempts to legislate the internet, including SOPA and H.B. 2549. Until a bill is released which includes specifics – including the definition of a cyber threat – our liberties on the Internet will continue to be at risk.
Want to learn more? Read this article from Digital Trends for more information and share your thoughts in the comments.