You can, of course, understand why the sponsors would bring back the identical bill. After all, it passed (fairly easily), even with tremendous protests. Many tech companies like the bill, because it puts no specific requirements on them, and also (more importantly) frees them from liability for sharing info on their users. But that’s the really problematic part. It’s disappointing that tech companies have not realized that standing up for their users’ privacy rights is a smart business decision on its own. Tragically, they’re taking the short term view on this one.
The privacy concerns about CISPA are incredibly serious. While the Senate took a very different approach with its Cybersecurity Act (which did not pass), at the very least, amendments to the Senate bill improved the privacy problems. One would hope that the backers of CISPA would recognize that this would be an opportunity to build a bigger tent, and follow through by matching the same privacy protections. Unfortunately they did not. While the Obama administration threatened to veto CISPA last year, in part due to the privacy concerns, I’m not sure anyone is confident that the administration is serious about that.
In fact, if the rumors are correct, President Obama will mention cybersecurity sometime in the State of the Union address tonight, and then will sign the executive order the administration has put together on Wednesday morning, to coincide with the reintroduction of CISPA in the afternoon. Basically, the use of the executive order is to put pressure on Congress to do something. There is still a hurdle from the Senate, since it supports a very different approach, but there’s about to be a very, very big push on cybersecurity.
Either way, it’s incredibly disappointing that CISPA’s supporters didn’t take the time to make some rather basic changes to protect privacy. Instead, they effectively use some broad language to more or less wipe out privacy protections on very broad terms, while doing nothing to keep any data shared from being further shared with other parts of the government. In other words, it’s a ticket for widespread surveillance of Americans (as if we don’t already have enough of that).
Fight For the Future has set up CISPAisBack.com to try to let folks in Congress know that bringing back the same extremely flawed bill is a mistake. That’s one way to contact your Representatives, though just calling their office directly would also be a good idea.
( via tinyurl.com )