Monday, April 22, 2013

Today's Protest Against CISPA

I generally don't like to get political on this blog. The exception is when a particular bill could have an impact on this blog. Last year I took part in the internet blackout to protest SOPA. Today a similar blackout is taking place to protest CISPA. Since I have no practical means to blackout this blog on such short notice, I thought that I would write about CISPA and let people know how to fight it instead.

For those who don't know, CISPA is short for the "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act." The goal of the bill is a noble one--to make it easier for the government to investigate cyberthreats and to make the United States safer against cyberattcks. The problem is that CISPA essentially throws the baby out with the bath water. Quite simply, it allows private companies to share users' data without those users' knowledge or even their permission. What is worse is that CISPA is so poorly written and so vague that companies could share a user's data even when there was clearly no evidence of a cyberthreat. Essentially, CISPA would create an exception to existing privacy laws, giving private companies and the government carte blanche to invade people's privacy. Sadly, despite the large amount of opposition to the bill, the House of Representatives passed CISPA last week. The bill has now moved onto the Senate.

Fortunately, there are several ways for one to fight CISPA. The simplest may be to simply post one's opposition to the bill on Google+ or Twitter using either the hash tag #StopCISPA  or  #CISPABlackout. Another is to sign a petition. There is one at petition to "Stop CISPA" on Change.Org and another set up by Fight For the Future. Of course, the best way to fight CISPA is to contact one's Senators. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a simple, one click email that will automatically send emails to one's senators. OpenCongress.Org has an entire page devoted to how to fight CISPA, as well as their handy ContactCongress feature.

Now President Obama has threatened to veto CISPA should it pass the Senate, but it seems to me much easier if we stop it now in the Senate. Aside from never reaching the President's desk, it would also send a clear message to both the House and Senate that we the people oppose CISPA, making it less likely that it will ever rear its ugly head again.

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