CISPAThe U.S. House is at it again. When SOPA and PIPA failed did they give up? No, they simply created a new bill that many consider to be even worse and certainly goes way beyond any data privacy boundaries than any bill before it, excluding the Patriot Act…

To be clear, before you read on, I’m against any law that strips users of their privacy online and any law that goes against the fundamental DNA of the Internet, the freedom of speech. I won’t argue though that there doesn’t exist a need to protect some government data online but passing law that not only affects the privacy of U.S. citizens and companies but affects the whole Internet is something that I and GreenQloud will always oppose. Fortunately SOPA, PIPA, CISPA and any other U.S. bill don’t apply to GreenQloud since we are incorporated in Iceland, where our data centers are, and Iceland is fast becoming a safe haven for data and online privacy (See the IMMI but more on that later…).

So what is CISPA?

CISPA is short for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Michael Rogers (R-MI). Its said purpose is to protect America’s internet interests against cyber attacks. It’s technically an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947 but is extremely vague in its boundaries and objectives.

The premise of this bill sounds fair, to protect the U.S. against cyber attacks. But as many have pointed out it goes way beyond that premise and is ripe for misuse just as the Patriot Act has been. The infographic at the end of this article summarizes a lot of the issues but here are my major concerns.

Three major issues with CISPA

There are a number of gaping “flaws” in CISPA. First of all CISPA’s purpose is to protect the U.S. from cyberattacks which often are in essence the stealing of private data. Ironically CISPA could be described as the master key for government sponsored cyberattacks.  It will allow every federal agency to override any (U.S.) existing online privacy laws to access user information and to do whatever with that data including sharing it with whomever they see fit.

What the bill also does is allow private companies the right to share user information and data that isn’t really their property (like everything about you) with the federal government. Companies like Facebook and Microsoft have already said they will do that by supporting the bill.

And lastly the marketing engine behind the bill is saying unlike SOPA the bill does not include the right to block websites. However the federal government is already seizing and shutting down U.S. websites and could in fact use CISPA to take any private information in the name of cybersecurity and use the same excuse to seize websites, effectively shutting them down.

There is hope

Fortunately there is still hope that the bill will be stopped just like SOPA and PIPA. The strongest opponent being the White House (quote):

“Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, in its current form.”

CISPA looks like an extension of the Patriot Act but hopefully CISPA will be stopped and that will be the end of the U.S. government’s failed attempts to control the Internet and online privacy. In the meantime and in the future your data is safe and private in Iceland with GreenQloud. Please leave your comments below!

– Eirikur Hrafnsson, Co-Founder GreenQloud


CISPA Infographic by Lumin Consulting

Comments - 2 Responses to “The latest US online privacy bill”

  1. KajMagnus says:

    Thanks for this easy to understand explanation :-)

  2. Rwolf says:

    CISPA Legislation, Will Escalate Government Asset Forfeiture

    CISPA the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act if signed into law will allow——the military and NSA warrant-less spying on Americans’ confidential electronic Communications; any transmitted private information circumventing the fourth amendment. CISPA will allow any self-protected cyber entity to share with the Feds any person’s private information that might allegedly relate to a cyber threat or crime. Considering the U.S. Government’s current business relationship with telephone and Internet companies, it should be expected the feds would use CISPA to gain unprecedented access to lawful Americans’ private electronic communications. Almost every week news media reports corrupt police arrested for selling drugs, taking bribes and perjury. It is foreseeable that broad provisions in CISPA that call for private businesses’ cyber entities to share among themselves and with Spy Agencies confidential information will open the door for corrupt government, police and entity employees to sell a corporations’ confidential information to its competitors, foreign government and others. CISPA provides insufficient safeguards to control disposition of (shared) confidential corporate and client entity information, including confidential information shared by spy agencies with private and government entities derived from spying on Americans.

    Ironically Government can use CISPA to (covertly certify employees) of a Government approved certified cyber self-protected entity—to spy on their certified employer; and clients with full immunity from lawsuits if done in good faith. U.S. Government is not prohibited from paying a Government Certified self protected cyber entity or their employee “Asset Forfeiture commissions” that result from providing Government a corporation’s confidential and private client information—that otherwise would require a warrant.

    The recent House Passed Cyber Security Bill overrides the Fourth Amendment. Government may use against Americans in Criminal, Civil and Administrative courts (any information) derived from CISPA warrant-less Internet spying.

    CISPA will open the door for U.S. Government spy agencies such as NSA; the FBI; government asset forfeiture contractors, any private entity (to take out of context) any innocent—hastily written email, fax or phone call to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, assess fines and or civilly forfeit a business or property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.

    CISPA (warrant-less electronic surveillance) will enable the U.S. Justice Department to bypass the Fourth Amendment, use information extracted from CISPA electronic surveillance) of Americans’ Web Server Records, Internet Activity, transmitted emails, faxes, and phone calls to issue subpoenas in hopes of finding evidence or to prosecute Citizens for any alleged crime or violation. If the current CISPA is signed into law it is problematic federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private government contractors will want access to prior Bush II NSA and other government illegally obtained electronic records to secure evidence to arrest Americans; civilly forfeit their homes, businesses and other assets under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on “Asset Forfeiture” to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?

    Note: the passed “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (effectively eliminated) the “five year statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture of property: the statute now runs five years (from the date) police allege they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. If CISPA takes affect, allows (no warrant) electronic government surveillance of Americans, it is expected CISPA will be used by government not only to thwart cyber threats, but to aggressively prosecute Americans and businesses for any alleged crime: U.S. Government spy and police agencies; quasi government contractors for profit, will relentlessly sift through Citizen and businesses’ (government retained Internet data), emails and phone communications) to discover possible crimes or civil violations.

    A corrupt U.S. Government Administration too easily use CISPA no-warrant-seized emails, faxes, Internet data and phone call information) to target, blackmail and extort its political opposition; target any Citizen, corporation and others in the manner Hitler used his Nazi passed legislation that permitted no-warrant Nazi police searches and seizure of Citizens and businesses or to extort support for the Nazi fascist government. Hitler Nazi Laws made it possible for the Nazis to strong-arm German parliament to pass Hitler’s 1933 Discriminatory Decrees that suspended the Constitutional Freedoms of German Citizens. History shows how that turned out.

    CISPA warrant-less electronic surveillance) has the potential of turning America into a Fascist Police State.

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