The next cyber security bill is even worse than SOPA

CISPA may sound like a good idea, but it's just another way for the feds to stomp all over our privacy

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You say you live in a state whose laws prohibit some of these abuses? Sorry Charlie, CISPA would preempt them.

Your only protections against abuse: yearly audits by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. What, you've never heard of the PACLOB? That may be because its five slots have been empty since 2008, following accusations of White House censorship. Over the last two years, President Obama nominated candidates to fill each of those slots, but they have yet to be approved by the Senate.

A blank check for private companies and the federal government to trample the Fourth Amendment, with annual oversight provided by ghosts? That sounds like just the kind of brilliant idea our benighted Congress is likely to endorse.

A clue to what this bill is really about can be found in the first paragraph of a press release from the House Select Committee on Intelligence boasting about CISPA's broad bipartisan support:

Over 100 Members of Congress are supporting the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523), which helps protect American businesses and jobs.

Since when is a "cyber security" bill supposed to be about jobs? Small wonder that companies like AT&T, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, and Verizon have all publicly endorsed it. (Apparently the RIAA and MPAA decided to sit this one out.)

CISPA sailed through committee and may come up for a House vote before the end of this month. Don't like the idea? The EFF has set up a handy form where you can send an email opposing the bill to your local representatives. PopVox has set up a page where you can express your support or opposition to CISPA. That probably won't have any effect on Congress, but it might make you feel better.

If Uncle Sam wants to keep foreign intelligence services from hacking our computer infrastructure, I'm all for it. But throwing yet another bone at the content cartel while calling it a "security" measure isn't going to cut it. We've seen that trick too many times before.

Is CISPA vital to our cyber security or another step closer to privacy armageddon? Vent your feelings below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "The next cyber security bill is even worse than SOPA," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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