Many B-rated horror flicks end with the good guys destroying some kind of monster, literal (like a flesh eating beast from hell) or figurative (deranged serial killer), with the camera then panning down to the creature. Right before rolling to credits, an eye opens or a arm twitches to let the viewers know it's still alive, ensuring a sequel is in order. Such is the case with SOPA and PIPA, the controversial privacy bills that were essentially destroyed by an angry Internet mob, only we didn't really kill it completely.
Meet CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), the new version of SOPA and potentially the latest threat to consumer privacy, depending on who you ask. CISPA is a bill written by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) that seeks to allow companies and the federal government to share private information for the sake of cyber defense. If it were to go into effect, ISPs would be able to share customer records and communications with the National Security Agency, presumably to catch bad guys.
"However, the bill expressly authorizes monitoring of our private communications, and is written so broadly that it allows companies to hand over large swaths of personal information to the government with no judicial oversight -- effectively creating a 'cybersecurity' loophole in all existing privacy laws," Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a not for profit digital rights advocacy group and general defender of the Internet, explains in an FAQ.
According to the EFF, CISPA would allow companies to read your emails and share that information with the government, all without a warrant. Be that as it may, Facebook on Friday posted a blog post explaining why it supports the bill.
"A number of bills being considered by Congress, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (HR 3523), would make it easier for Facebook and other companies to receive critical threat data from the U.S. government," Facebook explains. "Importantly, HR 3523 would impose no new obligations on us to share data with anyone –- and ensures that if we do share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today.
"That said, we recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill – in particular about provisions that enable private companies to voluntarily share cyber threat data with the government. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place -- the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users."
The problem with that statement, which was bolded by Facebook, is that it forces citizens to trust individual companies to do the right thing with their private data. And what's even more scary about this, as opposed to SOPA, is that a number of companies have written letters of support for the bill, including AT&T, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Verizon, and many more.
You can read the bill in its entirety by going here. If you decide you're against CISPA, the EFF lists a number of ways you can oppose it.