U.S. lawmakers have authored another bill designed to censor the internet in the name of cybersecurity.
Citing cyberattacks as a threat, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of any person they choose.
The website Change.org has created a petition
against the act and a handful of videos have been made against it along with some articles, but the American press has been mostly silent about the potential act, HR 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act
(or CISPA for short).
Opponents say the bill has vague language that could well allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private
Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded on the
Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online advocacy group, has sharply condemned CISPA for what it means for the future of the Internet. It effectively creates a cybersecurity exemption to all existing laws, explains the EFF, who add in a
statement of their own that There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by cybersecurity purposes.
Update: Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote
27th April 2012. See article
The House has passed the bill with late amendments that opened up the scope way beyond the original security basis.
Among them was an absolutely terrible change (pdf and embedded below---scroll to amendment #6) to the definition of what the government can do with shared information, put forth by Rep. Quayle. Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the government's
power, even though it in fact expands it by adding more items to the list of acceptable purposes for which shared information can be used. Even more astonishingly, it passed with a near-unanimous vote. The CISPA that was just approved by the House is
much worse than the CISPA being discussed as recently as this morning.
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for cybersecurity or national security purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of
cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
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