By Cody Heintz, Business Manager
Even though SOPA and PIPA were tabled earlier this year, there is still a bill in Congress that is causing many of the same concerns that SOPA did. It is called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), and was introduced in the House of Representatives by Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) in November of last year. Currently, CISPA is being voted on in the House. However, CISPA is a completely different beast than SOPA: instead of attacking websites like Reddit or YouTube, which recycle or outright steal copyrighted information, CISPA will go after individuals.
While SOPA was concerned with intellectual property, CISPA targets hackers attacking web sites and the government. CISPA currently has provisions in it that could threaten citizens' privacy and civil liberties. CISPA would allow private companies to share clients' personal information with the Federal Government in the name of cyber security. There would be no limit on the type of information shared, meaning that the government has the possibility of gaining a person's entire Internet history with no warrant necessary.
Another problem is that the information shared between companies and the government would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, which means that it would be harder to keep an eye whether or not the powers granted by the bill are being abused. CISPA is so broadly worded that it evens defines intellectual property theft as a threat to cyber security.
It is irresponsible to allow the government the ability to gain unlimited information on its citizens without the need for a warrant. If CISPA becomes law then another layer of civil liberties will be gone and the privacy of citizens will take the biggest step back since the passing of the Patriot Act. CISPA is too broadly and poorly worded that there is an almost unlimited potential for abuse that will affect the rights of every American, and can have unforeseen consequences for the Internet.
Even though there is a need for Web security, it should not come at the expense of personal rights and liberties. Any bill that is written for the purposes of Internet security should at least respect the rights of American citizens and should be written specifically enough that it will not allow the government to abuse its powers.