Eyebrows Raised As CISPA Rolls Forward

Internet commentators were in a flap today and tech forums abuzz as it was revealed the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the CISPA Act. Seems like there is no let up in the barrage of legislation designed to afford greater “protection” for individuals and corporations that use or abuse the Internet.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act ostensibly facilitates the voluntary sharing of information between U.S. government agencies and private companies to defend against external attacks on networks. It amends some tired laws that date back over sixty years in some cases. Whilst most people agree that the cyber threats mentioned in the bill do exist, there is disagreement over whether such legislation would be effective at all. Critics of the bill also worry that it legalizes information sharing that could impact on privacy, under the guise of ensuring security.

President Obama is reportedly unimpressed by the current version of CISPA as well and alluded to the possibility of a Presidential Veto despite the fact some of the most intrusive aspects of the bill were toned down considerably before it was approved. A few original supporters of the bill were left in a quandry as they struggled to balance privacy concerns against the very real need to mitigate against cyber attacks.

How far the bill actually proceeds is still uncertain; but after last year’s SOPA debacle it once again raises the spectre of a hurriedly written law that has huge implications for corporations and individuals and about which most citizens have had little or no prior information. But with the Presidential election looming and other competing bills on the Senate agenda it may be a long time before CISPA sees the light of day. In the meantime voters have the opportunity to get informed about the topic.