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), which some have labeled in recent weeks as a type of sequel to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a highly controversial series of proposals that were utterly destroyed by an online mass work-stoppage protest earlier this year.
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 [NSA], enabling corporations to share data with the world’s most sophisticated spy apparatus.
And if that weren’t troubling enough for privacy and civil liberties advocates, a little noticed passage in the bill defines “cyber threat intelligence” as: “[Information] in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from: (1) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (2) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information”