Thousands rally against CISPA cybersecurity bill

The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is supported by more than 100 members of the House of Representatives, is scheduled to be discussed in Congress on Friday, where it will be the first bill to go to a vote since the collapse of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in January. The bill looks to give businesses and the federal government legal protection to share cyber threats with one another in an effort to prevent online attacks. Internet privacy and neutrality advocates, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, feel the bill does not contain enough limits on how and when the government may monitor private information, however, and they fear that such power may be used to locate and punish file sharers and those who infringe on copyrights rather than hackers.

An online petition opposing the bill from Azazz.org has reached nearly 800,000 signatures thus far, while a second petition calling for Facebook and Microsoft to end their support for the bill has gathered more than 600,000 signatures. It isn’t just the Internet that opposes CISPA, though.

Congressman and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul warned in a statement earlier this week that the bill is the new SOPA, and it represents the “latest assault on Internet freedom.” Paul warned that “CISPA encourages some of our most successful internet companies to act as government spies, sowing distrust of social media and chilling communication in one segment of the world economy where America still leads.” The representative said proponents of the bill may be well-intentioned, but he believes it will unquestionably lead us towards a national security state rather than a free constitutional republic.

The White House on Wednesday also issued a veto threat against the current version of CISPA, Politico reported. The Obama administration in a statement claimed, as written now, the bill would allow “broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information.”

The president went on to say that “such sharing should be accomplished in a way that permits appropriate sharing within the government without undue restrictions imposed by private sector companies that share information.” The administration warns that CISPA lacks “sufficient limitations” in regards to the sharing of personal information between entities, and there are not enough checks in place to protect the data.

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