The Dangers of CISPA


In April of 2012, the House of Representatives passed a bill known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) but the bill never made it past the Senate. Now this bill has returned a second time, already approved by the House. In the name of “cyber security”, the bill is littered with privacy issues that would affect all users of the Internet. The vague language and terms throughout CISPA allows the government new powers that fall outside their constitutional jurisdiction. As the Internet continues to grow around the world and more regulations develop, it is our job as people to hold on to our rights and not allow bills such as CISPA to pass that will infringe on our personal liberties.

In recent years, some widely publicized bills that were brought down by Internet users were SOPA and PIPA. These bills dealt with Internet piracy and the protection of intellectual property. CISPA is stark in comparison to these bills as it deals strictly with the idea of national security. Due to recent events, both domestic and foreign, the government is looking to gather more information that could prevent these cyber attacks in the name of national security. The question is are they doing this in a constitutionally just way?

The bill allows the sharing of “cyber threat information” between the government and private companies. But under what circumstances? This is why the bill is controversial. The bill does not provide a clear definition of what a “cyber attack threat” is. At what point does the government have the right to intervene, taking user’s private information from companies such as Facebook or Google?  According to the Electron Frontier Foundation, a donor-supported membership organization dedicated to protecting fundamental rights regardless of technology, CISPA is written in a way that would allow the government to access emails and text messages that would be “shared” by communication providers. This means that the government organizations would be able to bypass standing privacy laws with a loophole created by CISPA.

In bypassing these laws, the government no longer would need a warrant to search through your personal information if a situation is considered a “cyber threat” which is not clearly defined by the bill. This might be considered a violation of our 4th amendment right which was put in place to prevent unreasonable searches and seizures as well as to protect our privacy. It is unnecessary for the federal government to be granted powers that are not clearly defined in a bill allowing the sharing of private information all the way down to a single text message.

It is important to remember that this bill will not only affect Americans but people around the world. This bill would infringe upon the rights of people around the world. The Internet is a relatively new invention, and there is not significant information that cyber security laws to this extent are even necessary. Congress has a lack of experience with regulatory laws involving the Internet, and their incompetence to do so can be seen in not only how terribly CISPA was written, but also in the fact has already passed through the house.

It was Ben Franklin who said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This is why CISPA needs to be stopped. Representatives need to be called and awareness needs to be spread. Organizations such as the EFF have websites with tools that can help people get involved in protesting CISPA. This is the chance that we have as people to have our say in representative government, and it should not be wasted before it is too late.

CISPA produces a 1984 surveillance state feeling that supposedly is being put in place for the cyber protection of Americans. Some may argue that if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about, or that information gathered by CISPA could actually be beneficial to the people. But those points do not take into account the of power this grants the government. As individuals we need to ask ourselves how far is too far, and how beneficial could the government possibly reading our text messages be to the safety of all Americans.

CISPA is a bill that is not constitutionally just and needs to be stopped in the Senate. As people with our rights at jeopardy, it is our responsibility to use our voice to protest a bill that could not only have vast effects on our country, but the entire world.