What do you know about CISPA?

CISPA, the Computer Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, passed the House with a large majority yesterday. Unfortunately, because of an amendment adopted just before passage of the bill, CISPA essentially eliminates all fourth amendment protections on the Internet. The online world becomes totally open to surveillance, notwithstanding any other law.

…CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.

Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power.

The President has threatened to veto CISPA in its present form if it gets to his desk, but who knows if he will follow through.

A terrific FAQ on the potential impact is available here.