A controversial new bill that would allow for Internet censorship is quietly moving through Congress. Critics claim H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), constitutes a substantial threat to the Internet as we know it.
The controversial bill intends “to provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities, and for other purposes.” The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Michael Rogers, a Republican representing Michigan’s 8th district.
Under CISPA, the feds, and other corporate interests, could require ISPs and others to provide information on Internet users without restriction. No warrant, no probable cause, would be necessary, as long as the action is taken in the name of “cyber security.”
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation the bill contains “sweeping language [that] would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.”
Critics claim the bill is draconian in nature, and would effectively eliminate any pretense to online privacy and Internet freedom.
Ostensibly, CISPA is meant to be a tool to prevent online piracy, and protect the nation's security. However, critics argue that in reality the legislation would allow for the circumvention of any and all protections guaranteeing online privacy, allowing the feds and other corporate interests to monitor, censor and prevent online communications considered disruptive or harmful to the government or other significant private parties.
Indeed, critics claim the current legislation is so vague in wording that almost anything could be monitored or censored in the name of cyber security.
CISPA is being compared to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Yet it remains to be seen if the same public pressure that successfully stopped SOPA and PIPA can prevent CISPA from being enacted.