If you download and distribute copyrighted material on the Internet, or share any information that governments or corporations find inconvenient, you could soon be labeled a threat to national security in the United States. That's the aim of a bill in Congress called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
The good news is that SOPA and PIPA haven't come to pass, but the bad news is that they could be followed by a bill that is even more invasive and could violate even more of your civil liberties. According to a press release issued last week, the bill already has over a 100 congressional co-sponsors. Yet the bill is only now beginning to appear on the public radar.
CISPA would let companies spy on users and share private information with the federal government and other companies with near-total immunity from civil and criminal liability. It effectively creates a 'cybersecurity' exemption to all existing laws.
CISPA, however, is nothing like SOPA, despite its recent association in the media. While SOPA included provisions that would have essentially broken the Internet by allowing the U.S. to delete domains from a central registry system, CISPA does nothing of the sort, and aims more at "cyber threat intelligence" gathering than censorship and piracy prevention.
The bill presents itself as a simple enhancement of America's cyber-security that would amend the National Security Act to include "cyber threat intelligence" gathering. To those ends, it would tear down the firewall between private corporate networks and the National Security Agency , enabling corporations to share data with the world's most sophisticated spy apparatus.
While the bill is openly supported by companies like AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Facebook, Boeing and Intel, ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson cautioned last month that it is not something to be taken up lightly.