CISPA, the New Enemy of the Internet


A few months ago, the proposal of an anti-piracy bill by the name of SOPA caused a great deal of controversy and protest due to the fact that it allowed the snooping of web users while opening the door to the censorship of the internet. The proposal of this law caused companies and internet giants such as AOL, Facebook and Google to openly oppose the bill – some even went as far as making their sites “go dark” for a day as a form of protest. The bill was eventually shelved and internet users rejoiced. But it was a very temporary victory. A new law is set to make the internet a highly monitored place.

Were the anti-SOPA companies genuinely concerned about your privacy? Not really. SOPA simply went against their best interests as it placed the burden of internet surveillance on them.

Now, a new bill by the name of CISPA will be proposed this week and its unprecise wording will make legal all kinds of abuse against privacy and free speech. Is there outrage from internet giants or are there corporate websites going black? Not at all. In fact, several companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Intel, AT&T, Verizon openly support the bill.

“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 didn’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.”
– Digital Trends, CISPA is not the new SOPA: Here’s why

With the support of big businesses, CISPA is receiving a lot less negative publicity and has a lot more chances to be adopted. It has been recently reported that the Obama administration is against CISPA – but that might not be enough to get it cancelled. Also, with elections coming soon, appearing to be against this controversial law while still having it adopted might be a simple political strategy.

Since companies are backing the law, it is up to the people to get their voices heard. Although different than SOPA, CISPA has all of the main components to turn the internet into a cyber-police-state. Here’s a good article describing CISPA.

As CISPA Nears A Vote, Can The Controversial Cyber-Security Legislation Be Stopped?

As controversial cyber security legislation nears a vote in the House this week, civil liberties groups and some politicians are lining up against the bill.

Critics of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) have likened it to previous bills, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that was defeated in Congress earlier this year.

(You can read the full pdf text of CISPA here.)

Now, opposition to CISPA is growing more widespread with each passing day as more and more internet groups join forces to push back against what is seen as a serious threat to domestic privacy laws.

The Daily Kos has set up its own action against CISPA, and numerous groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have been at the forefront of the effort to halt what they see as a serious threat to American civil liberties.

The ACLU has described the bill as an even more pernicious SOPA, noting that the legislation “would give the government, including military spy agencies, unprecedented powers to snoop through people’s personal information — medical records, private emails, financial information — all without a warrant, proper oversight or limits.”

Meanwhile reddit, the site largely responsible for the groundswell of cyber-grassroots opposition to SOPA, has been overrun with discussions about this latest threat to online privacy.

The critics have a point, writes Timothy B. Lee (not to be confused with Tim Berners-Lee) at Ars Technica.

“CISPA is a solution in search of a problem. And it threatens to undermine important privacy protections.”

Politicians Come Out Against CISPA

Now, even the Obama Administration has come out against the bill, siding again with the forces of the internet against lawmakers.

“The Obama administration opposes Cispa,” Alec Ross, a senior adviser for innovation to Hillary Clinton, told the Guardian. “The president has called for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation. There is absolutely a need for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.

“[But] part of what has been communicated to congressional committees is that we want legislation to come with necessary protections for individuals.”

Ross did not comment on whether Obama would veto the bill.

Presidential hopeful and staunch libertarian Ron Paul has come out against the legislation as well.

“CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications without judicial oversight provided that they do so of course in the name of cybersecurity,” said the Texas Republican.

“Simply put, CISPA encourages some of our most successful internet companies to act as government spies, sowing distrust of social media and chilling communications in one segment of the world economy where Americans still lead.”

Critics of CISPA point out that the lawmakers responsible for bills that tinker with the internet rarely understand the technical side of the equation, whereas critics of this and earlier bills have a much stronger grasp not merely on the civil liberties aspects but on the way such bills could harm the internet itself.

The man many credit for “inventing” the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, has also come out against the bill, noting how quickly these sorts of bills resurface in Congress.

CISPA “is threatening the rights of people in America, and effectively rights everywhere, because what happens in America tends to affect people all over the world. Even though the SOPA and PIPA acts were stopped by huge public outcry, it’s staggering how quickly the US government has come back with a new, different, threat to the rights of its citizens,” Lee told The Guardian.

So what is CISPA, and what does it do?

Basically CISPA bypasses various laws that have been put in place to protect privacy. The legislation allows companies and government agencies to share “cyber threat information” with other private companies or the government “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

Such broad strokes are always worrisome, especially given how fast and loose the term “threat” has become in recent years. What sort of private information could be used to prevent a cyber threat?

The Center for Democracy and Technology list four broad areas for concern:

  • CISPA has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies and it supersedes all other privacy laws.
  • CISPA is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications.
  • CISPA is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military.
  • Once the information is shared with the government, it wouldn’t have to be used for cybersecurity, but could instead be used for other purposes.

One imagines that almost anything could potentially be helpful in preventing a cyber attack. Emails, health records, online purchases. The language in the bill is so broad and leaves so much room to maneuver, that the sharing of private information could be excused or overlooked for almost any reason.

The truly perplexing thing about the bill is that a great deal of information is already routinely shared by companies and the government. The only difference between this information sharing and information sharing under CISPA is that there are currently safeguards in place to prevent abuse. CISPA strips those safeguards away in the name of cyber security.

But Is It SOPA?

Not quite, argues Ars Technica’s Tim Lee. “A better analogy is the 2008 FISA Amendment Act, which granted major telecommunications incumbents retroactive immunity for their participation in warrantless wiretapping and eliminated judicial oversight for a broad category of government surveillance.”

CISPA simply loosens already weak protections of privacy and does so with few, if any, restraints and little oversight. In other words, it’s just another piece of the security-state puzzle we’ve been cobbling together since 9/11 which already includes domestic surveillance, the possible detention of US citizens by the military, and numerous other assaults on individual liberty and privacy.

With SOPA, the “threat” was online piracy. With CISPA, the “threat” is much more vague. Does internet piracy itself constitute a cyber threat?

“And whereas SOPA pitted Silicon Valley against Hollywood, CISPA seems to have the support of many technology and Web-based companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Symantec and IBM,” writes Forbes cyber-security guru Andy Greenberg.

While SOPA raised first amendment concerns, CISPA raises concerns about privacy. Still, privacy and free speech are not exactly mutually exclusive. Loss of privacy threatens free speech, and the loss of free speech is inevitably a loss of privacy.

The only silver lining at this point is that whereas the FAA passed during a time of political crisis, the anti-censorship forces and internet groups in opposition this time around are much better organized. The stunning defeat of SOPA and PIPA earlier this year illustrate just how far these groups, and the social media tools they wield, have come in a short span of time.

The Man Leading The CISPA Charge

The architect of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican, along with his Democratic co-sponsor Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland.

Despite the growing opposition to the bill, Rogers remains confident of its passage.

“I feel pretty confident that we’ll close out the bill,” Rogers told Talking Points Memo. “There is a strong chance that the bill will be passed [by the House this] week.”

While Rogers is stubbornly pursuing the bill in the face of White House opposition and the rising tide of anti-CISPA voices across the internet, he does say he’s willing to make changes.

“We’re open to change this bill right up until it comes to the House floor based on external input,” he told TPM.

What sort of changes remains unclear, but critics of CISPA should take this as a sign that mounting pressure could still have an affect on the bill, possibly leading to revised and more constrained language. Even so, the legislation does little to counter actual cyber threats, while opening the floodgates to all sorts of privacy concerns.

Time is running out for opponents of the bill.

Debate in the House will begin this Thursday, and a vote is scheduled for Friday. There are alternatives to the Rogers bill, such as a bill proposed by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), that are less invasive and present a more careful, balanced, and targeted approach to cyber threats.

Cyber security is a legitimate government issue, but until the government starts talking to actual cyber security and tech experts, and takes the concerns of civil liberties groups seriously, we risk giving far too much away, once again, in our quest for an ever-elusive sense of security.

– Source: Forbes




Subscribe to the Newsletter

Get an email notification as soon as a new article is published on the site.

Support VC


Leave a Comment

85 Comments on "CISPA, the New Enemy of the Internet"

newest oldest most voted

The Right to Access Political Information and put across Political Views is a Human Right

and so is Privacy of Communications

It is Un Acceptable for there to be a Surveillance State and there Needs to be Constitutional


I have realized "America" is an experiment, an elite NWO experiment, from generations of immigrants over the years to settle and recover minerals and resources, establish industries, and supply armies to fight foreign wars to gain more resources for the elite, whoever and wherever they may be, England? Europe? It does not matter. All we can control are our families, our values, and do the best we can. The people are good and truly believe in "American" values, but now I realize that it is all a facade. I will say that the internet is a good thing overall, to share information and knowledge, among so many people, even if the government is snooping. Library shares its root from the word liber:free, libri:Book; books, or knowledge, is freedom.

from "handbook for a new paradigm"

"…the focus of attention to the devils of the dark doings does not resolve the issue.

…. are you part of the problem by observing it or you become part of the solution by looking for the building blocks of what you want instead?"

Everyone should learn computing to some degree. Many ways to get around being spied upon. Look into VPN's, Proxies, alternative OS's like linux, make your own forums on servers outside of the US, etc. Always thought facebook was a kids site and just a fad. Computing has just gotten main stream these days with everyone owning a computer. Back in the good old days of dial up you actually had many many people actually making there own forums and 90% of people on the net where real geeks. No face book and google was unheard of… Trivia: Who did Bill Gates steal DOS from? Instead of doing the OS themselves (as they had said), they went to a neighbouring company who was working on a direct rip-off of CP/M (that wasn't that good a rip-off either). This company was Seattle Computing and the product was QDOS (Quick & Dirty Operating… Read more »

how are we going to stop this then people? if this goes ahead our good friend V.C is gunna end up getting shut down no doubts. then who is gunna wake the people?

"those who are willing to sacrifice essential liberty for a little security, deserve neither liberty nor security" -ben franklin. A mason, I know, but dude said this right!

Yet again the government is trying to install totalitarian control over our lives by developing this act to sabotage, control, undermine, and dominate internet access.

Its like we don't have a choice.

Looking forward to more articles VC as to the dark manipulative sinister potential machinations that the NWO, and all that relate to the govt led by the illuminati themselves have been plotting in order to destroy everything that we lived for.

Is it too late to do anything? Outside of making your personal choices? I sometimes think yes. In my church our leaders used to warn everyone of many of these things. Now they warn people to stop watching p*********y. It seems like we didn't pay attention at the time when these things could have been stopped, and maybe it's too late? Like people missed the grand moment they could make a difference, and we have regressed as a people and are stuck to our TVs and computers now. What does anyone else think about that? We talk a lot about how to identify these things. What can we do about them? Please, ideas, or an article, or anything would be great. I want to know what others think.

I absolutely hate p**n but my husband loves it. And then he tries to lie about watching it but I see it in the history. It pisses me off and I've let him know it but he still does it. He's addicted to it a d has even admitted to it. I dont understand this world today. So full of sin and everyone just do what you want,even if your married. Disgusting world we live in. And my husband thinks I'm crazy for believing this stuff but it's so obvious to not believe it!

Seems like there's little left to do besides pray on the deus ex machina of our choice.


It makes no sense to me why things like this are even a discussion. None of us, not even our grandparents have ever experienced an American form of government. We don't need more laws, we need to eliminate thousands of them. There are only two extreme forms of government: Americanism and socialism. Socialism is potentially unlimited government power, and rights come from the government. Americanism means rights come from being born, and the government is there to protect our rights. That is the only purpose for an American government. People are so crazy to think that we need to give away our rights FOR ANYTHING. Not many people realize that Rome became prosperous as a republic and fell once the government started to become more socialist. It's the exact same thing with this country. We are living in occupied territory the same as in 1775. We live under a totalitarian… Read more »

I love that you said that because I tell my husband that all the time! There are so many comparisons you can make between America now and Rome before the fall. (My husband is in complete agreement in case anyone wonders, we just preach to the choir with each other.)

It passed in the House last night – we need to let the traitors know that we wont stand for this! Obama will ptobably pose as an opponent by threatening to veto, like he did with NDAA, before signing it under cover of night.

Seems like we're getting closer to this dystopian future we keep seeing in movies.

Put on your armor of Christ!


Even the governemnt has criticized this bill.

Well I have to admit that Facebook

Did suck me in

I post my pictures,qoutes & put up my statuses

Every other day…

Thinking I'm just interacting with my people…

I need to close it down, the sooner the better.

Seriously, closing down your FB won't change anything. I'm sure all the datas are kept in some big clouds anyway.

It's indubitable that facebook, twitter etc. are actually a negative thing. And they are very addictive. Thus, why not we "manipulate" them instead? In lieu of posting your emotions as status, why not post something informational or motivation quote? We have even seen the role of twitter in Arab Spring, so I'm sure we can turn the table around.

By the way this is off the topiuc but remember tupac and snoop dog tour now tlc is gonna bring back left eye says aol front page again stupid idea and not a entertainers soul will rest its showtime again and people wanna just fill their lives with more money and green back, enough they will drown in it. Whos next michael jackson,elvis,freddy from queen,janis joplin,lead singer from the doors or jimmy hendrix or bob marley?????? I wander who Perhaps kurt cobain or whitney or amy whinehouse. Its endless imagine a full hologram concert with all the passed away souls of the music business disgusting and sick.

Has it ever crossed your mind that many of the fans lack the ability to use their brains? Why else they want to watch a dead person performing on stage via technology. And I bet those tickets are quite dear too. So if they lack some common sense, what else you can do? let them get on with it.

I want to add I just watched a video clip on aol front page that the creator of the tupac concert is planning on having j. beiber sing with elvis and that there is plans to bring back jimmy hendrix,whitney

houston, kurt cobain among others. It didn't take them long did it.

ha! this tells me what i been complaining about for years…"artists" today suck so much that they have to bring dead artists to help them out now! pathetic!

So this is not new. We've been watched for probably years. Through our little tv black boxes and other kinds of ways. Facebook is a joke. People post everything that is either to private, to boring or just plain dumb. I mean great I'm all for people creating new business ideas and all but some of the ideas are just not that damn important to me. I don't care who follows the beiber on twitter or who follows lady gaga or k.kardashin. I don't care what one does everyday in their life on facebook. I think some of the posting on facebook are unsafe like posting your life and photos of your children. The way this world is with crime and all. Blogging is a little different in that you can have self expression and put out ideas and thoughts. But here again when the thought police arrive it goodbye… Read more »

So make it stop. What? Can't stop it? Oh yeah, it's the Owellian nightmare come true.

Why do you want to censor the precious Internet D:?!?

People shouldn't worry, we can be smarter than them. If this law passes, delete Facebook account, use your phone instead of email, go to the library instead of using the web! if they could do it 20 years ago, why can't we do it now?!

I know times are different and we are used to using the internet, but it's our lives privacy and freedom we are talking about here. I am not willing to give that up just because of laziness, which is what the Internet is mostly about! I mean, if you really think about it, the Internet hasn't been here for that long. I think we could survive with out it. More specifically we could survive with out Facebook, Twitter, Email or useless-crappy Webpages. We have Telephones, Parks to meet people, and Libraries!

Delete your Facebook account. I DARE YOU. You can't. It won't let you, EVER.

I deleted mine. I just never found myself to be interested in it. Whats the point in sharing every stupid little thing you do?

I save my experiences for actual conversation rather than just posting it on some 'social' website.

Who cares about facebook? Even the first account I had with them with my real name was lacking information. No pics, videos or vital info were attached to it. The only thing they could find via facebook, even if my account is not deleted, is my name and city of residence.

What you fail to understand is that even if we use the library facilities, they can still trace us. To open an internet account via your local library, you must register with them as they need utility bills, ids etc to allow you to use the facilities. Every time you login in the library, they know who is the person behind the screen. So I might as well not bother and use the facilities from the comfort of my own house.

"go to the library instead of using the web!" What, you think actual books will survive this digital revolution? Eventually, I see books in libraries being replaced by DRM software which will require a "reader" such as a future device similar to the Kindle, Nook, etc. in order to "check out" your now digital books which will expire on a certain date and vanish from your digital device unless you decide to make a purchase. I see libraries going one of two ways: All to digital like brick and mortar stores pulling VHS in favor of DVD and now blu-ray, or shrinking into yet another store front masquarading as a library, where you may "try" books for a period of time before you "buy" them. Maybe the try before you buy digital books will only allow you to display portions of the books and not the whole. DRM will strongly… Read more »

I like your attitude, but know that phone calls can be easily monitored. The NSA is building it's new spy center where I live, so I am up on that stuff. If it's really important, whisper it to someone with the shower running. Also, remember the satelites can zoom in on any notes you write and read in the open. I am kidding, but not really.

Yes Rebecca probably they do whatever you say. But you know what? Who gives a toss? Life is too short to worry about stalkers. At the end of the day equipment/electronics aren't always reliable, I want to see what they'll do when their technology crashes.

Not long until 'Internet 2' now by the looks of things.

How odd and ironic that rumors of Blue Beam project launching would be on the date of the London Olympics 2012. Jay-Z and Rihanna have been announced as headlining it.


I know this might seem unrelated, but I recently discovered this video on youtube, which I find eerily similar to the elites vision of the future and trans-humanism.

Coincidence, or a message warning us? I ask you to watch this and decide for yourself.

@Concerned, I just watched the video and it was creepy! I couldn't even watch the whole thing, I had to click out of it. Just like many of the articles that VCs post, all of this stuff is actually a foretelling of events to come, they just want to desensitize it to us first so we won't resist when it actually happens.

This world is getting more and more evil, and if you read Revelation, you can see some of the prophesies are already been fufilled. The Beast is rising and it's not going to get better. I pray that all that don't know Jesus that you will open your hearts to him before it's too late!

Thankyou VC for keeping us up to date an pulling apart these actions so people can see for themselves this is most definitely a spiritual battle! May God bless you and keep you now and after life here!…your a blessing!

" The bill was eventually shelved and internet users rejoiced. But it was a very temporary victory. A new law is set to make the internet a highly monitored place."

… how about the fact the very day after SOPA was shelved they took down MegaUpload anyways. Stop waiting for the next big law, they clearly already have the power and arent asking when theyre allowed to use it.