Published by LawTechie - May 3, 2012 - LawTechie

internet lawThe CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) bill brought a huge amount of debate to the Internet industry after a myriad of Silicon Valley’s tech giants have thrown their support behind the controversial Internet surveillance bill, passed in the House last week. However, Mozilla Corporation has been the first to “break the silence” in Silicon Valley illustrating various issues of concern with the ambiguity of CISPA. Mozilla, also a prominent tech company in Silicon Valley is responsible for one of the most successful Internet browsers with itsFirefox Web browser.

Mozilla’s Privacy and Public Policy lead wrote to reporter, Andy Greenberg of Forbes stating:

“While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.”

An official statement hasn’t been made regarding whether Mozilla is joining the opposition towards CISPA. Nevertheless, with the released statement made to Forbes perhaps they will be one of the few tech giants rallying against the bill.

CISPA Overview & Support:

Under CISPA, private companies could willingly share “cyber threat intelligence” with the federal government. Additionally, the bill also permits the government to easily share classified material with the private sector. pdf

Supporters: Supporters of the bill argue CISPA is indispensable in aiding a stop to a “cyber 9-11.”The official list of CISPA’s co-sponsors.

Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle and Symantec, Verizon, AT&T, and the trade association of the CTIA (which includes representatives from T-Mobile, Sybase, Nokia, and Qualcomm). The full and official list can be found here.

Undecided: Mozilla Corporation & Google, Inc. The CDT seems to be riding the fence as long as certain amendments are made to the bill. The Obama Administration stated CISPA could potentially infringe civil liberties – if the bill isn’t amended during the Senate vote it may get vetoed.

Opponents: Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Avaaz, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Center for Democracy and Technology*, The Constitution Project, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, OpenMedia.ca, Open the Government, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Reporters Without Borders, Reverse Robo Call, Sunlight Foundation, Techdirt, and TechFreedom.

Official list provided by the EFF.

Comments:

Mozilla seems to be echoing the same concerns made by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Senate is anticipating the debate on cybersecurity legislation in the upcoming few weeks. CISPA is expected to face bigger challenges before Senate. The bill will be considered against a number of other rival cybersecurity bills, including the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, and the SECURE IT Act. I am not really surprised that many tech companies haven’t spoke up about CISPA’s lack of privacy – the bill provides an immunity to tech giants against prosecution for sharing data. Moreover, CISPA indemnifies private companies for sharing information with the government. Perhaps if that element were removed it would be a completely different story.

Tim Bukher’s comments: It’s always a bit scary when a bill provides private actors with immunity from other private actors for doing certain “questionable things” that could have otherwise gotten them sued. E.g., SOPA sought to provide ISPs and credit card merchants with immunity for arbitrarily cutting off websites on the suspicion that they engaged in IP infringement. These types of bills are dangerous for the basic reason that when you give people a blank check to do whatever they want… they will go ahead do whatever they want.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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