If you haven’t noticed the multitude of header banners on many websites, the much dreaded CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is due to be voted on once again next month in the House. You can read up on our coverage in the past here and here but in a nutshell, from my earlier article:
CISPA (under the guise of ‘security’ as these liberty-stripping bills always are) provides the government the ability to inspect all of your private data, including web history, text messages, emails, etc. if you are suspected of being a cybersecurity threat. The definition of this threat is exceptionally broad – a “threat to the network” is grounds for them to demand your information from companies with access to this data. Or a threat to intellectual property rights. Or if they suspect that there is “danger to children” or that someone may be at “risk of bodily harm.” If the government snoops create some mystery scenario where any of these situations, factual or perceived, can exist they are exempt to all laws pertaining to personal privacy where it concerns your information.
The current status of the Act is up in the air. There are protests not only from libertarians, the online community, civil liberty groups and some more moral corporations (though Facebook only recently took back its support as of a week ago), but also some from Members of the House, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Schiff aims to:
…require the development of policies and procedures to minimize the impact of information sharing on privacy and civil liberties, specifically minimizing the collection of personally identifiable information. It would also narrowly define and tailor the purposes for which the government can use information obtained from private entities under the legislation, while including exceptions for information that directly relates to a crime or a specific national security threat.
The amendment would:
- Adopt privacy language requiring the development of policies and procedures to minimize the impact of information sharing on privacy and civil liberties, including by minimizing the collection of publicly identifiable information as included in Senator Feinstein’s draft. The procedures would have to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Attorney General within one year of their development, and
- Narrow the purposes for which a Federal agency may use cybersecurity information obtained under the Act. Allow for the use of cyber security information if the information discloses a specific threat to national security or is considered foreign intelligence information; and
- Use Lieberman/Collins/Feinstein definitions for Cybersecurity Threat, Cybersecurity Threat Information, and Cybersecurity Threat Intelligence, while also adopting a number of other definitions that are necessary to define those terms.
Granted, we are opposed to this bill up and down regardless, despite Schiff’s efforts to protect our privacy and liberty. We will have to wait to see what the changes are that actually come through on this bill to see if it will be another A.G. Holder-type massaging of language that seems to protect us on the surface while leaving ample room for the government to do whatever the hell it wants underneath. We’ll update with more as the information and text become available. Until then, keep wearing those “HEY MISTA! NO CISPA!” buttons. We should really make those available on our merch page…