Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Under CISPA, who can get your data?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted an interesting article on their Deep Links blog on yesterday asking the question of 'who has access to your personal and private data if CISPA were to pass'. It turns out, the better question is who doesn't have access?

CISPA, which stands for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is supposed to streamline the sharing of data between private industry and governmental agencies. Ostensibly, this type of law was needed because of the threat of cyberwar with the Chinese or the Iranians or whoever the bogeyman of the week was when they came up with the legislation.

What the law actually does, however, is allow industry to share your personal information with just about any government agency from the Food and Drug Administration to the National Security Agency and leaves you with absolutely no recourse should that information be misused.

This isn't the first time CISPA has been a threat to our liberties. Two years ago, thanks to a concentrated effort of activists and companies, the law was defeated along with other ill-conceived privacy invading legislation like SOPA but CISPA sponsors vowed that they would reintroduce the bills when conditions were more favorable. Looks like that time is now and it's important that we band together to defeat this horrible legislation one more (and hopefully final) time.

What can you do? There are a few things:

1) Call your member of Congress (find their contact info here) and let them know you will not tolerate them voting for such a law. Explain how it violates privacy and why you don't support it. Make it clear that, if they vote for it, you will not vote for them in the next election.

2) Vote with your wallet! Find the names of the companies that support CISPA (old list but still valid) and don't do business with them. But don't just stop doing business with them, write a letter, make a call, whatever, and tell them why.

3) Educate your friends on what CISPA is and why it's bad and dangerous. Laws like these often get passed because most people have no clue what they are or that they are even being considered. Be the leader in your circle of friends and family and educate, educate, educate. The EFF has a few excellent articles on their blog about it that you should be able to use as a resource.

We can beat this bill again. But it's going to take a concerted effort from us all if we want to see a final victory.

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