After killing SOPA, Internet activists take aim at a new House cybersecurity bill: The Hill

Apr 8th, 2012 Criticism, Legislation

On April 7th, 2012, Brendan Sasso reported for The Hill on how internet activists have turned their attention towards CISPA, a House cybersecurity bill.  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ruppersberger (D-Md.) authored CISPA a few months ago; the bill flew through committee but still hasn't made it to the floor.  CISPA is similar to every other cybersecurity bill floating around in that it encourages information sharing between the private sector and U.S. government.  All things considered, the bill is pretty moderate:  CISPA only made it through committee because Rep. Rogers and Rep. Ruppersberger changed the bill's language so that "only information pertaining to cybersecurity and national security could be used" as opposed to private citizen's information.

For some reason, the internet just decided to turn on CISPA.  The hivemind over at Reddit has begun decrying CISPA as the new SOPA.  These are the same people who were behind the movement that eventually brought down SOPA.  The Hill article noted that Reddit users have called CISPA  "the latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet" and a "draconian privacy invasion bill."  The blogosphere is equally incensed.  They both have completely missed the point.

The problem is, CISPA ain't SOPA.  It's not even close.  The Hill quoted a House aide who supports CISPA:  "There's no authority to censor or block sites in [CISPA] . . . The only authority is to share information with the private sector and for them to voluntarily share it with the government. There's nothing in here that would allow you to block or shutdown a website."

Nevertheless, a few privacy advocates are concerned about CISPA's information-sharing provisions.  Specifically, they're concerned that an expansive reading of the provisions would lead to "companies handing over people's personal information to the government."  However, CISPA only made it through committee after addressing these very same privacy concerns.

I found this article interesting because (1) the denizens of the internet have completely misunderstood CISPA and (2) their confusion might have an impact on the cybersecurity debate.  Again, CISPA ain't SOPA.  To say that a cybersecurity bill designed to facilitate information sharing is anything like a copyright infringement bill that blocks infringing websites is just disingenuous.  Unfortunately, the same fervor that brought down SOPA could slow the passage of cybersecurity legislation in general.  CISPA, the CSA, Secure IT, and the Precise Act are all susceptible to the same arguments. 

The Hill made a great point: the SOPA protests were so effective because they had backing from web giants like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia.  These same giants would likely back CISPA.  However, I'm still worried that misplaced public opinion might slow passage of cybersecurity legislation when we need it immediately.

You can find The Hill source article here.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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