Published: Friday 27 April 2012
“SOPA was about intellectual property; CISPA is about cyber security, but opponents believe both bills have the potential to trample constitutional rights.”

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, up for debate in the House of Representatives today, has privacy activists, tech companies, security wonks and the Obama administration all jousting about what it means – not only for security but Internet privacy and intellectual property. Backers expect CISPA to pass, unlike SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act that melted down amid controversy earlier this year.

Here’s a rundown on the debate and what CISPA could mean for Internet users.

What exactly is CISPA?

The act, sponsored Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., would make it easier for private corporations and U.S. agencies, including military and intelligence, to share information related to “cyber threats.” In theory, this would enable the government and companies to keep up-to-date on security risks and protect themselves more efficiently. CISPA would amend the National Security Act of 1947, which currently contains no reference to cyber security. Companies wouldn’t be required to share any data. They would just be allowed to do so.

Why should I care?

CISPA could enable companies like Facebook and Twitter, as well as Internet service providers, to share your personal information with the National Security Agency and the CIA, as long as that information is deemed to pertain to a cyber threat or to national security.

How does the bill define “cyber threat”?

The bill itself defines it as information "pertaining to a vulnerability ...

Published: Tuesday 6 December 2011
While the name may lead the public to believe that Congress is trying to keep our e-mail pure and our computer screens safe, the real story is that the 1 percent are again trying to rig the rules so that they get as many dollars as possible from the rest of us.

The 1 percent and their employees are masters of word play. They turned the estate tax into the “death tax,” life-saving health and environmental rules became “job-killing” regulations, and of course when it comes to taxes, the richest of the rich are now “job creators” who are supposed to be exempt from paying taxes.   

Given this track record, it is hardly surprising that a bill that would require every website in the country to become unpaid copyright enforcement officers for Time Warner, Disney, and the Washington Post comes packaged as the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” While the name may lead the public to believe that Congress is trying to keep our e-mail pure and our computer screens safe, the real story is that the 1 percent are again trying to rig the rules so that they get as many dollars as possible from the rest of us.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would place an enormous burden not just on Internet giants like Google and Facebook, but any website that allows people to post content or includes links to other sites.  An owner of copyrighted material would be able to go the Justice Department and claim infringement and request that the whole site be taken down. 

While sites are already required to remove material that is determined to be infringing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the SOPA requires that sites in effect preemptively screen material for potential infringements.  If they fail, they risk having their whole site taken down for a period of time, in addition to paying damages to copyright holders.

The question that serious people would ask is what problem is the SOPA intended to address? There is still plenty of money being made by online distributors of music, movies, books and software. The problem seen by ...

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