Is CISPA worse than SOPA?
The simple answer is yes, in the sense that CISPA has the potential to have a broader impact on Americans than SOPA ever did. SOPA targeted overseas websites that were accused of copyright infringement and would have given the Attorney General the power to serve the websites in question a court order to virtually disappear.
While SOPA has been referred to as a kind of “internet death penalty” for such websites, CISPA would be the death of online privacy as we know it. CISPA would literally give government agencies the power to amass the personal info of all Americans from private companies. The bill would supposedly increase cybersecurity, but it’s written in a way that obliterates user privacy immediately in exchange for possibly improving the security of the Internet.
Its most concerning section states “notwithstanding any other provision of law” companies may share information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” CISPA’s use of “notwithstanding” essentially allows it to trump all other existing federal and state civil and criminal laws, including the Wire Tap Act which states that any person or company who helps someone “intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication”– unless specifically authorized by law–could face criminal charges. CISPA opens the door to a new era of information sharing between private agencies and our government, whose officials will be one step closer to tracking our every move.
Even more worrisome, the bill already has the support of companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, and Intel, while SOPA was defeated by a broad alliance of similar companies like Google and Wikipedia. SOPA was also staunchly opposed by millions of p.o.’d users, but because CISPA has the support of so many major companies, it has not gotten the same kind of publicity that would cause an uproar from users like you.
Just this past April, the U.S. House of Representatives approved CISPA with a comfortable vote 248 to 168, undoubtedly the result of the public support from the private sector. CISPA will meet strong opposition in the Senate, where Democrats are much less likely to pass the bill than House Republicans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something to worry about. The intention of the bill may be good, but its ambiguous wording has convoluted its purpose by creating an frightening Big Brother future for the Internet. Help protect your privacy, and write to your congressional representative to stop CISPA.