The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a bill going through the US Congress right now. The goal of CISPA is to allow the US government to more effectively police the internet. Legislators have been trying to get a bill of this nature signed into law for many years, and in fact did try to pass a previous version of this same bill in 2011. It has been reintroduced by Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan’s 8th district. North Korean hackers, Wikileaks, and even the Boston bombing have already been used to justify the reintroduction of this draconian bill.
The problem with this bill is that it would allow the U.S. government to collect personal information about online users from companies without having to issue a warrant. In other words, they don’t need to have any proof or a valid reason to investigate you to get information about your browsing habits, what websites you visit, how often, what you say, and who you interact with. There is even a provision in the bill would allow US companies to require employees to give them the passwords for their social networking accounts (for websites like Facebook) according to the Huffington Post. That is my understanding of the proposed law.
President Obama has vowed to veto the bill unless better privacy rights are not incorporated into the bill. I wonder what President Obama considers acceptable protection of privacy and if his requirements would actually be adequate. This sounds to me like posturing to satisfy his political base. I would wager that if congress makes some largely superficial changes to the bill to make it sound better our dear leader will sign it into law.
In my experience, a good indicator that something is wrong with a bill is that the ACLU opposes it. They have extensive information about the bill. Wired has also written a good article about the issue.
Anonymous has asked the internet community to blackout their websites. Almost 400 websites have joined in their protests; but sadly none of the big movers and shakers like Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, or Facebook have taken part (clearly WordPress.com hasn’t).