Why are tech companies backing CISPA?

Online privacy advocates and the tech industry joined forces to sink SOPA. But now they're split over another piece of arguably invasive internet regulation.

By TheWeek.com May 1, 2012 1:08PM
Late last week, the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), despite a veto threat from President Obama. Privacy advocates and the media were especially alarmed by last-minute amendments, leading to "dramatic headlines like 'Insanity: CISPA just got way worse ..' and 'CISPA is ridiculously hideous,' " says Jeff John Roberts at GigaOm. Earlier this year, the same kind of alarm bells, plus a heavy dose of "internet muscle" from big technology companies, were enough to derail another piece of proposed internet regulation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). But this time, "these same [tech] companies have been quiet as church mice," or even supportive of CISPA.

What gives? Here's what you should know:

Briefly, what is CISPA? 
Presented as a bill to help the government and private companies collaborate to stop cyber-attacks, CISPA is so vaguely worded that critics have dubbed it "Big Brother" legislation that would give the government and military agencies carte blanche to root through your email and other online data repositories. The law would sunset after five years unless Congress reauthorized it.

What amendments have people worried? 
Among the most worrisome is an "odious" amendment from Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) that would broaden the scope of what can trigger government surveillance, from the already nebulous "threats" to "cyber security" and "national security" to the need to protect individuals and, specifically, children, say Mat Honan and Brian Barrett at Gizmodo. In other words, "any suspicion of anything illegal on the internet -- not just the vague Chinese cyber warfare threats the bill had built its stature on -- is enough for the government to go through your entire online life."

Which companies support CISPA? 
Defense contractors, telecoms, and power utilities all sent letters of support, as did Facebook, Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM), and Oracle (ORCL). Tech trade groups are on board, too, says Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post. In other words, "the technology industry is fully behind the bill."

Why are tech giants backing CISPA?
 At least three reasons, says GigaOm's Roberts. First, this isn't SOPA, which would have deputized the tech companies as "copyright cops." Under CISPA, they can pass customer data to the government if they choose, or not. Second, the bill is going nowhere fast -- Obama has promised to veto it -- so why "kick up dust" now? And lastly, cyber attacks are a real and growing problem for tech firms, and they want "new tools to help them fight back."

What happens next? 
The battle moves to the Senate. "Expect the resistance to grow," says WebProNews' Zach Walton. "The internet wants CISPA to die," and "any kind of internet regulation will always be seen as an attack on those who live and breathe the internet."

More from The Week

1Comment
May 1, 2012 2:45PM
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There are other people out there to try to find every good nuke and cranny aspect of the horrible law CISPA, unfortunately, there is nothing good about it, other any to open the door for U.S. Government to make additional amendments to gain Control of its people rights and a thousand of other things like to prosecute people for un-related and unfounded stuff.

The U.S. Government is already pushing legislative bills saying tax delinquent people are a flight risk and those TSA airport staff will have to arrest those people at airports, but TSA airport staff is there for terrorists. Do you see my point? The U.S. Government will say anything and hopes to find stupid people, usually the older generation or anyone who will believe it, using the term "Cyber Threat" which is a broad term or no such thing. Well as a stupid people would say, "IT MUST BE RIGHT, A CONGRESSMAN IS NEVER WRONG".

But the only problem is, these paid-off corporate Congressman (that are never wrong) have NOT supported any of their scare “cyber threats” stories with an ACTUAL EVENT or attack of any type (like 9/11) to gain support for the U.S. country to be a corporate society to control the internet and the people of the United States. Like our soldiers who were lied to, just to have them fight the Hong Kong / Korea War, were back to the same brainwashed people again. We cannot keep fooling those and our ourselves that the U.S. Government is not lying to us again with their false scare tactics “cyber threat" and mysteries for political gain. Things like Congress telling everyone you can hack and build a-bomb online or the Aztec calendar ready to expire will cause a cyber attack. What next, tell everyone you can hack and build an a-bomb online and ship it to your house.

A enough is a enough already, you got your Patriot Act, NDAA, FBGIA, N-DEx networks, but let it go, it's over 10 years after 9/11 and nothing else happening since, but Congress will not stop, rainwashing the people hope is for enough stupid people who know nothing about the internet, will come forward to believe the cyber threat hocus pocus. If there are all these threats to foreign counties to get information to harm us (I can’t even believe I say information can harm us, but anyway) then, give us these FACTUAL EVENTS THAT HAPPEN (like what happen to the world trade center), But I can bet you, I can make people believe that pigs can fly, - before your paid-off U.S. Congress can push this cyber threat house pocus to open up the doors a very bad government control & police state to control “freedom of speech” and our lives.

It is not hard to find stupid readers that will believe these cyber hocus pocus. People believe marshens came to earth, people believe President Bush Jr. when he said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, people believed that the World Trade Center was brought down bombs, rather than the 23,980 gallons of pure jet fuel and the list goes on. But now, were under attack by digital 1’s and 0’s. Well that just stupid in itself. Anyone with common sense knows article supporting this HR 3523 CISPA bill is all hocus pocus, make believe. Sure, I can write a list of any unrelated tragedies and work it to my agenda.

If any foreign government is going to get our secrets, well they don’t need the internet to hack some computer, they just pay off so low-life U.S. employee, like our Corporate U.S. Congressman to get the information and post it to wikileaks.com . NO CYBER THREAT NEEDED.

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