'Stop Cyber Spying Week' — counter-attack on CISPA

Posted Apr 17, 2012 by Anne Sewell
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short) is once again in the news, but this time a major counter-attack is being planned to fight it.
Don Hankins (CC BY 2.0)
Digital Journal recently reported on the controversial new bill, CISPA and its threats to internet freedom.
Advocates fighting for an open internet are concerned about CISPA, which is currently being considered by Congress under the guise of addressing cybersecurity threats.
They have this week launched a counter-campaign against this draconian bill.
The opponents state that the government is attempting to once again restrict internet access to millions of Americans which could kill internet freedom of expression and information.
4 months ago a massive campaign was launched to crush the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and now with the U.S. Congress expecting to vote on CISPA next week, opponents of internet censorship are now fighting back for their right to a free internet.
The Washington DC-based Center for Democracy & Technology (DCT) has stated: “CISPA … would allow companies to monitor private email, Internet searches, and other online activity and then share information with the government under an excessively broad definition of a cyber threat. Under CISPA, the government could do almost anything with this information, including using it for purposes not related to cybersecurity. The information could go directly to the National Security Agency, a military agency that operates secretly and with little public accountability.”
Under the new draconian bill the government can investigate and share any information "directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to" a computer network. However, what would constitute a threat is really open-ended under the new bill.
U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) stated “The broad base of support for this bill shows that Congress recognizes the urgent need to help our private sector better defend itself from these invidious attacks," when submitting the bill to Congress.
With both Facebook and Microsoft forming part of a list of around 30 companies pushing to get CISPA approved, Stop Cyber Spying Week is believed to be essential to fight this. CISPA has not yet achieved the kind of attention that SOPA had in the news, but this may change soon.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a press release yesterday saying: “The goal of Stop Cyber Spying Week is simple: get Congress to back off of any cybersnooping legislation that sacrifices the civil liberties of Internet users.”
Opponents of the legislation, including CDT, EFF and others, are attempting to raise public awareness of the bill and they hope that their campaign will have a similar success to the massive Internet blackout earlier this year against SOPA and PIPA which was supported by Wikipedia, Reddit and other major websites and which, at least for now, has crushed both bills.
Kendall Burman of the CDT spoke to RT last month saying concerns about CISPA are very real. “Cyber security, when done right and done narrowly, could benefit everyone. But it needs to be done in an incremental way with a narrow approach, and the heavy hand that lawmakers are taking with these current bills . . . it brings real serious concerns.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are also joining the fight and a representative, Mandy Simon states: “So the government wants our information. Let's give it to them. Tweet a message to your member of Congress on Twitter about the kind of things you do online that are none of the government business. Tell your Congressperson the details of what you do online — the personal, the mundane, whatever — so they can see just how much personal, unnecessary data about you could be shared with the government as a result of the legislation's dangerously vague language. Use the hashtags #CongressTMI and #CISPA.”
Simon adds: “Our goal this week is to show exactly how invasive CISPA's power would be and we encourage all of you to get involved. Please stand with us, tweet with us and tell your Representatives that if cybersecurity legislation doesn't protect your rights, it shouldn't get passed.”
As part of the fight, Avaaz and Change.Org are running petitions in an attempt to stop CISPA and Demand Progress have a petition going to tell Facebook to withdraw its support of CISPA and another to fight CISPA itself.
Congress has recently set up a new Twitter account to list the merits of CISPA, where Twitter users can air their views on the subject with 140 characters or less.