[AfrICANN-discuss] CISPA is not the new SOPA: Here’s why

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Sun Apr 8 12:27:19 SAST 2012

CISPA is not the new SOPA: Here’s
[image: Andrew Couts] <http://www.digitaltrends.com/users/andrew_couts/> April
6, 2012By Andrew Couts

[image: cispa-sopa-2]<http://cdn3.digitaltrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/cispa-sopa-2.png>

*The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is being
compared to SOPA for the outrage it's generating online. But a few key
differences between the fight against SOPA and the fight against CISPA
should give any opponent pause.*

Yesterday, I wrote<http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/watch-out-washington-cispa-replaces-sopa-as-internets-enemy-no-1/>that
“the Internet has a new enemy,” and its name is CISPA, short for the
Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011. And it’s true: this
poorly crafted piece of “cybersecurity” legislation is irking concerned Web
citizens the world over.

Using our Chartbeat analytics tool, I saw wave after wave of users flood
into the article, from all parts of the globe. North Dakota, Sweden,
Portugal, Mexico, New York — everybody, it seems, is interested and
concerned about this bill that critics (rightly) believe could threaten the
types of information we can access online, as well as our privacy and
freedom of speech.

In less than 24 hours, a petition on
Avaaz.org<http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/>entitled, “Save the
Internet from the US,” has racked up more than 300,000
signatures, asking the federal government to drop CISPA. By the time you
read this article, that number will likely be well over half a million, or
more. And the anti-CISPA movement already has its own
a sure sign of meme-ability, which is vital to any online campaign.

And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that the Internet community will lose
this battle, that CISPA will pass — that there will be no blackout, this
time around.

The first problem is the nature of the threat this bill poses: At its core,
CISPA is about companies and the government sharing information. Now, to
anyone concerned with privacy, this is a big issue, especially considering
that CISPA places absolutely no explicit limits on the type of information
that may be shared with the government, or between private companies, as
long as it is somehow related to cyber threats. To me, and a lot of you,
that’s terrifying.

For most people, however, sharing information about ourselves is just the
way things work nowadays. We post every aspect of our lives online, from
what we’re eating to our location to all the gritty details of last night.
These companies already know all our secrets. In other words: privacy just
ain’t what it used to be. And I just don’t see every Jack, Jill, and John
getting their knickers in a knot over something that sounds like what they
do on a regular basis — share information — or which many people believe is
already happening: that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and every other Web
company out there hands over our private information the second Uncle Sam
looks at them funny. We are in *Brave New World*, not *1984*.

Second — and this is the real problem — the CISPA opposition does not yet
have the technology industry on its side. In fact, many of the most
important players, the ones with the big scary guns, have already embedded
themselves in the enemy’s camp. Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Intel,
AT&T, Verizon — all of them (and many others) have already sent letters to
*support* for CISPA. And that should come as no surprise. Whereas SOPA and
PIPA were bad for many companies that do business on the Internet, and
burdened them with the unholy task of policing the Web (or facing
repercussions if they did’t), this bill makes life easier for them; it
removes regulations and the risk of getting sued for handing over our
information to The Law. Not to mention doing what the bill says it’s going
to do: protecting them from cyber threats.

In short: Supporting CISPA is in these companies’ interest. Supporting
SOPA/PIPA was not.

This means that the Internet community is on its own. No technology company
is going to buy a full-page
The New York Times and the Wall Street journal condemning CISPA by
own volition— unless we somehow force them to. And the only way to do that
is to set our sights on them first, and on the actual bill second.

Unfortunately, such a scenario creates a political problem for the CISPA
opposition. By scrambling to get the Internet and technology industries on
the side of the Internet users, it creates an opportunity for the bill’s
many supporters in Washington to push forward without the hassle of a
concerted resistance.

Now, I could very well be wrong about this. I hope I’m wrong — I hope all
of you reading this prove me wrong. I would be absolutely giddy if
everything I’ve just said is rendered moot by the shock and awe with which
the CISPA opposition fights against this bill. CISPA is a terrible piece of
legislation, one that very well could result in the government blocking
access to websites on the basis of copyright infringement, or sites like
Wikileaks under the guise of national security. And just because I’m
playing the defeatist doesn’t mean that the masses are incapable of rising
up against CISPA, and bury it away in the catacombs of legislative hell —
they, we, absolutely are. But until I see more than online petitions and
Twitter hashtags, my bet is on the bad guys.
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