The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, also known as the Rogers-Rupperberger Cyber Security Bill, was originally scheduled to go into effect next week, but is currently on hold while the Senate works on their version of the bill. CISPA gives individual companies the power to block your service and fine you $150,000 per instance if you dare use/copy/download a picture, a song, a video, a sentence, or anything that might be copyrighted. Since the corporations will have the ultimate decision in this matter, there is no appeal. As I said back in April:
You may think that this doesn’t have anything to do with you — after all you don’t download copyrighted material. Sorry, but every time you look at an Internet page, you’ve downloaded it. Every YouTube you watch, every image you Google, every word you read on the Internet belongs to somebody. You can’t look at your own Facebook page without being in technical violation of CISPA. Of course the corporations won’t fine everybody, just the ones that threaten their profits. Like they did with music sharing, they’ll fine just enough people to scare the rest. But how long will it be before you complain about something, and therefore fall into that category?
The only way Internet services can make this law work is to constantly watch everything you do online. This law isn’t about protecting copyrights, it’s about making you too afraid to protest anything. CIPSA isn’t just a threat to hackers and journalists — it’s a threat to everyone. And it will take everyone to keep it from becoming a reality.
After I wrote that, the House passed the bill in a rushed vote, making last minute changes to “add protections” to the bill. And by “add protections” they of course meant remove all Constitutional privacy protections. Apparently, if you’re online, the 4th Amendment does not apply. And where, previously, the power to prosecute you for copyright infringements was placed in the hands of the people who provide Internet service, now that power has also been given to the government, who can review and utilize any information gathered by the providers for any purpose they please, without a court order (not that they bother with that much anyway).
While the House bill was being finalized, the Senate was fleshing out their own particular monster called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. The backers of that bill said if it didn’t come to a vote by June, it’d be dead in the water because the rest of the year too many Senators would be working on their fall campaigns. Now they’re saying if it doesn’t come to a vote by July, etc. Well, it’s July, and the bill’s still alive. You can hope that it dies a natural death, or you can write your Senators and join a national effort to combat this bill (e.g., ACLU, or Declaration of Internet Freedom). I’m sure if you search the Internet, you’ll find plenty of other groups that oppose it as well.
Good luck — oh, and may the odds ever be in your favor…