Barely after the collective Internet breathed a sigh of relief over the shelving of SOPA and PIPA, the US Congress is back with CISPA – a bill that could have even more far reaching consequences on online privacy and the freedom of the Internet.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) allows companies to collect information about people and give it to the US government in the name of cyber security. The main problem with the bill is that it is so broad it can even lead to companies and the government monitoring and censoring what people say.
According to the digital right website Electronic Frontier Foundation, what this means is that “a company like Google, Facebook or Twitter could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop cybersecurity threats.”
A spokesperson for the US based Centre for Democracy and Technology said that what is of major concern is the fact that CISPA is extremely vast in terms of the types of information it will allow the government to receive. She also said that the bill would create a vast hole in all existing privacy laws and could be used as a back door wire tapper of sorts.
Electronic Frontier Foundation says that CISPA uses such sweeping language that it would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.
At today’s date CISPA has the support of over 100 representatives in the House, who favor the cybersecurity legislation, but do not take into account what it can do to the everyday Internet user.
It remains to be seen if major companies and regular Internet users can come together once more to make sure CISPA is not passed in its current form. But do these continuing attempts by the government to monitor what we do online, signal that the era of Internet freedom is coming to an end?