Some 800 private firms pledged their support to CISPA – Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Critics are calling CISPA the new SOPA, with a small twist of course, it exonerates private firms of all liability and responsibility for their involvement under the CISPA. Where there was a nationwide blackout for SOPA, most end users were amazed at the support the CISPA was able to amass from the tech industry. The most criticized proponent is Facebook, and rightly so.
The CISPA bill, in its vagueness, doesn’t simply allow for information to be exchanged in terms of cyber crimes; the terms of the bill are so vague that they can easily be manipulated. Facebook’s stance is that it’ll play good and never violate user’s privacy – this is when the social networking giant has previously been in the news for not always being top notch about handling their users’ privacy to begin with. Earlier this year Facebook came under fire for its cell phone app which was accessing user texts, which had nothing to do with Facebook to begin with. Much like cell phone spy software the texts were being recorded by the Facebook app. While Facebook denied using any of the data being collected by the app but given the CISPA bill what’s to stop it from handing your private messages over to a government agency? Facebook has as history of going against what the users wants – what started out as a private network is now open beyond user’s comfort. But users have had to bear with the many changes Facebook has undergone, largely because they’ve been given no choice in the matter.
But let’s believe Facebook when it says it’ll behave, as one would expect a large private firm with a proper structure to do. Let’s talk about another large private firm that’s been extracting and recording private pieces of data; this includes personal emails, pictures, browsing history etc. which were lifted from free Wi-Fi connections without the owner’s consent – if you guessed Google, you guessed right. Even without the CISPA in place Google has been continuing this practice since 2010, the only result was a $25,000 fine which is mere pennies for the giant. Firms under CISPA have to share all forms of data that the government finds relevant, forget where it came from or why they have it in the first place. And the convenient part of the bill is that it leaves private firms in no legal or financial danger for sharing any information.
There’s a chance that the next time you take a picture on your phone and upload it to Facebook, it’ll end up somewhere else. There’s an eerie aspect to this bill because it is giving private firms the right to act much in the same manner as computer monitoring software or Cell phone spyware. They’re allowed to record and keep any kind of information on their users, without ever telling the user what they’re up to. Meme’s, rage comics, cartoons and a whole host of other things on Facebook thrive because of the fact that they’re shared. Any sharer can get into trouble now and one wrong post and you could get into a heap of trouble. File sharers should be warned, intellectual copy right means you can’t share things that belong to other people - regardless of your intention. Facebook took a real stand against SOPA and PIPA because it had something to lose back then. Their aim was to not allow anything to hurt the internet experience for the users; even though the CISPA will do just that the liberties it provides private firms are too enticing for Facebook to back out.
In trying to get Facebook and other firms’ attention a group called ‘Anonymous’ has already begun attacking online websites of the companies supporting CISPA. The hackers are trying to send a message (but ironically it’s the wrong one) and so far USTelecom and TechAmerica’s site lost power. CISPA’s fate is to be decided during late April and it remains to be seen whether tech giants will push it forward, or if the average Joe will win.