CISPA - An 'Intellectual Property' Act In Disguise

cispa

The Library of Congress, which is an arm of the United States congress, summarizes CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 as being a counter-measure against any effort to disrupt a system or "theft or misappropriation of private or government information or intellectual property" (112th U.S. Congress 2011).

By being this open in its choice of words, what an misappropriation of intellectual property could mean - one could interpret this as the act of downloading files from YouTube, storing them in your browser, Internet service provider or content delivery network cache. You then would be, when watching a copyright infringing video on YouTube - under this Act - considered a cyber threat to national security.

Because the Act uses the term "National Security" repeatedly in conjunction with Intellectual Property this may very well mean that net activists, file sharers or investigative journalists browsing the Web could be labelled as terrorist organisation.

The Act continues to set rules on how the "intelligence community" should share the data gathered about any threats to the U.S. national security, such as in above scenario - citizens - misappropriately using intellectual property. In essence data gathered about any Internet user, being under suspicion of taking parts in such acts, maybe shared between the US Government and private security firms, such as H.B. Gary or Stratfor in a relatively free and open manner, surpassing privacy legislation or the U.N. Charta of Human Rights Article 18 - "The right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" (United Nations 1948).

When it comes to basic human rights, the right to know what information is stored about yourself, as it is written in the British data protection legislation in 1998 c. 29 Part II Section 7 (British Crown 1998) - this Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act ignores such legislation by saying: CISPA "exempts such information from public disclosure".

In my opinion, most problematic is this sentence:

Prohibits a civil or criminal cause of action against a protected entity, a self-protected entity (an entity that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself), or a cybersecurity provider acting in good faith under the above circumstances.

This would mean, that any action taken by cyber security industry or the United States Government stands above the given law. The bill closes by underlining the aforementioned by excluding such cyber intelligence data gathering actions from judicial application by any other past or future state statues.

By putting government and parts of the private sector above the law and enabling them to operate outside the most foundational human rights, CISPA supersedes SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. It furthermore elevates the rights of the media industry to spy on its consumers above any proportionality. This bill must be stopped.

References:

112th Congress. Database of federal legislation. "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act". Accessed April 16, 2012. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3523.

Crown. Her Majesty’s Government. "Data Protection Act". Last modified March 1, 2000. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/7.

Roosevelt, Eleanor et al. United Nations. "The Universal Declerations Of Human Rights". Accessed April 16, 2012. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a18.