One of the most controversial aspects of that act was to make it easier to force private companies to turn over business records of their customers when requested via a National Security Letter; these companies were forbidden from notifying the customer or anyone else about the NSL. Last week, nearly 12 years after the PATRIOT Act became law and more than 100,000 NSLs had been issued, a federal judge declared those NSLs unconstitutional.
Now we have CISPA, which is kind of an NSL in reverse. It allows private companies to share your business records with the government, pretty much whenever they feel a sudden cyber attack panic coming on.
As usual, it's interesting to follow the money in this case. According to political funding watchdog MapLight, the groups supporting CISPA (companies like AT&T, IBM, and Comcast) gave $55 million to members of Congress -- or 13 times more than the groups opposing it, such as the ACLU and EFF. Chief CISPA sponsor Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) liked that MapLight factoid so much he or one of his staffers retweeted it last week, then thought better of it and quickly deleted the tweet. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain or the companies behind this bill.
My question: What are these deep-pocketed organizations getting for their money? A safer Internet? Maybe. Or perhaps a free pass from the responsibility to safeguard our data, along with the freedom to do whatever the hell they want with it.
Where do you stand on CISPA? Make your arguments below or harangue me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "CISPA's second serving is even worse than the first," 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.