Corporations Supporting CISPA Include Facebook, Microsoft

    April 9, 2012

Is this how unwanted Internet regulation passes? When enough popular web-based/tech corporations support a bill that’s potentially as damaging as SOPA, causing their legion of followers to accept the inevitable? If so, there’s a really good chance the backlash SOPA experienced could be a thing of past, at least in regards to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

The question is, which corporations are supporting the bill, making is such a viable option to its SOPA/PIPA predecessors? Thanks to the openness of the U.S. Government, we have a list of CISPA supporters, and after the SOPA backlash, some of names might surprise you:

Business Roundtable
CTIA – The Wireless Association
Cyber, Space & Intelligence Association
Edison Electric
The Financial Services Roundtable
Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance
Information Technology Industry Council
Internet Security Alliance
Lockheed Martin
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
US Chamber of Commerce
US Telecom – The Broadband Association

The links go to the individual letters of support, and as you might’ve noticed, Facebook, a company that was outspoken against SOPA, is on the CISPA supporters list. Their letter of support includes the following:

Effective security requires private and public sector cooperation, and successful cooperation necessitates information sharing. Your legislation removes burdensome rules that currently can inhibit protection of the cyber ecosystem, and helps provide a more established structure for sharing within the cyber community while still respecting the privacy rights and expectations of our users. Through timely sharing of threat information, both public and private entities will be able to more effectively combat malicious activity in cyberspace and protect consumers.

As you can see, Facebook’s rationale for supporting CISPA is protecting consumers and combating malicious Internet activity. Furthermore, there letter of support does not mention intellectual property protection or protecting the entertainment industry from piracy. With that in mind, does this mean CISPA is nothing like SOPA and the reaction against it is misguided?

Not exactly.

On surface, CISPA focuses on the sharing of important cybersecurity information between government officials and companies the information could effect. But, the bill goes further, including portions about protecting intellectual property that remind some of SOPA and PIPA. An example from the actual bill (H.R. 3523):

(2) CYBER THREAT INTELLIGENCE- The term `cyber threat intelligence’ means 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–

`(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or

`(B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.

And this is far from the only mention of IP in the bill. If an IP thief is considered a threat to cyber security and intelligence, can anyone foresee a scenario where a website like The Pirate Bay would be viewed as a threat and blocked from U.S. web users, if not altogether taken down by a multinational task force?

Or, as Andrew Couts described it in his “CISPA is not the new SOPA: Here’s why” article:

CISPA is a terrible piece of legislation, one that very well could result in the government blocking access to websites on the basis of copyright infringement, or sites like Wikileaks under the guise of national security.

With that in mind, perhaps CISPA is more like SOPA than we first thought. The big difference is, companies like Facebook and Microsoft are not opposed to CISPA like they were PIPA/SOPA. Does that kind of support change your view about these kinds of bills or are you against any kind of “cyberspace” regulation that gives more control to the U.S. government?

I know what Julia O’Dwyer’s answer would be