During the SOPA / PIPA debacle, Internet denizens came out in droves to beat the bills back and protect our collective online rights. We, as in the Internet at large, said that the battle was won but the war would continue. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is the latest attempt at an affront to your online freedom.
CISPA hits the senate floor for voting in early June having already passed the US House of Representatives. If passed by the Senate, the last hope to get CISPA sent back to the proverbial drawing board would be a White House veto.
If passed, CISPA would provide broad authority to government organizations to collect and pass information between agencies. “Cyber threat information,” as the bill puts it. Ostensibly, CISPA is intended as a response to cyber security threats from hackers, terrorists or criminals. CISPA would give broad allowances for government agencies to pass our private information and communications between themselves. Currently, doing so leaves said agencies open to lawsuits from private citizens. Perhaps more disturbing, it allows (or could force) private organizations to pass information to government agencies under the same provisions.
The language in CISPA is in some cases so vague that it would be too easy to put to ill use. The powers afforded are too broad and would allow the government and private corporations like Facebook, Google et. al. to pass private information freely, with impunity. All under the guise of protecting against a “cyber threat.” The language explaining what exactly constitutes a cyber threat is also too broadly and loosely defined (see page 15 of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) and potentially sacrifices too many of our personal freedoms.
Our issues with CISPA are many. As concerned Internet citizens, we worry about what it would mean for personal online privacy—both yours and our own. As an Internet company that takes your privacy very (very) seriously, we worry about our ability to protect your online privacy, for our part, will be severely compromised.
If you feel, as we do, that CISPA is an ill conceived and too loosely defined a bill, please make your voices heard.
At Tucows, we feel that the Internet—whether accessed on your computer, on your smartphone or via any other vehicle—is vitally important. CISPA is a very serious threat to the freedom and privacy we take for granted online.
The proposed SOPA (and equally odious “Protect IP Act“) legislation is fundamentally flawed in how it works and the damage it is likely to do to the Internet, which has been the greatest platform for innovation the world has ever seen. For that reason we will be joining the blackout organized by our friends at Reddit by blacking out the Tucows Software Download site on January 18th from 8am to 8pm EST (1300-0100 UTC).
The Internet is a global creature. A “Made in the USA” solution will no more work to stop the problems talked of than would one made in any other single nation state. Worse, the US has been at the forefront of ensuring that the Internet has remained free and a platform for innovation for the last fifteen years. With SOPA, or ProtectIP, that leadership will effectively end and Syria, China, Iran and others will not only use the US as a role model, they will also use these actions as further evidence of US control of the Internet and justification for trying to turn it over to the UN/ITU. This is best described by Susan Crawford.
Worse, the legislation itself is fundamentally corrupt. It is bought and paid for by big media, trying vainly to protect anachronistic business models. This has been demonstrated clearly in all of the hearings and the very conduct of the debate. Listening to how deeply uninformed those being asked to legislate this issue are has been nothing short of scary. Watching how support and opposition has lined up has been disheartening. This is the worst example of the kind of fundamental corruption that is at the heart of the US political system currently and is well defined by Professor Larry Lessig. If you have ten minutes please watch this video on the subject. If you have an hour please watch this one.
The Internet is not a corpus, it is not a thing. It is a series of protocols, which are really agreements on how computers will behave when connected to the Internet. Treating the Internet like a thing to be legislated and controlled is as ill conceived as treating “Intellectual Property” like physical property and leads to even greater perversions. If governments squeeze too tightly, the Internet as we know it will simply get up and walk away. It will fracture and split with a “clean” Internet and a much larger Darknet. than there is today, but not one used mainly for file sharing. Instead the Darknet will become the real Internet. Brands will sell things and Media will offer content on the “Cleannet”, but the Darknet will be where ideas are shared, plans are made, memes are propagated and where most of the cool people, including most of our children, will be.
Prohibitions have never worked to change behaviours. They simply make people who fear things feel good and create a new mini-industry for fear mongers to make money off of. They do not change behaviours.
If you wish to get involved we suggest you visit Stop American Censorship, BlackoutSOPA.org and that you follow @tucows on Twitter where we’re we’ll be tweeting regularly about the movement to stop SOPA.