If you are active on Twitter, you have probably seen #stopCISPA all over your feed in the past week, and like many other people, have no idea what it is about.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would allow the federal government to monitor citizens’ Internet activity in hopes of preventing cyber threats.
The bill is awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after passing the House by a vote of 288-127.
Supporters of this bill have failed to acknowledge the broad scopes in the wording and Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, even had the audacity to use the Boston Marathon bombing as proof that CISPA needs to be passed.
CISPA would do many damaging things to the American people. Most importantly, it would allow corporations to void their privacy agreements with their customers without any legal ramifications.
The bill states that “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes … share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the federal government.”
Should this bill pass, it would turn companies, social media websites and other online outlets that you have Internet contact with into spies that would be allowed to release your information to the government without any sort of warrant or consent.
This kind of intrusion is a major violation of our right to privacy. In Mapp v. Ohio (1961), the Supreme Court said the right to privacy was “no less important than any other right carefully and particularly reserved to the people.”
American citizens should not allow this fundamental liberty to slip out of our hands by letting the Senate pass this bill unscathed.
Luckily, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have put forth an effort in to stop this bill.
President Barack Obama even issued a warning to Congress saying he would veto the bill if it were to pass.
However, a veto threat from the president does not mean the fight is over. The battle is still ongoing and has been for over a year.
Many of you might remember last year when websites such as Reddit and Wikipedia shut down for a day in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.
Although these bills were a bit different than CISPA is, they still would have allowed the monitoring of citizens’ Internet usage without a warrant.
This also is not the first time that CISPA has been presented to Congress. It was passed by the House in April 2012, but died in the Senate after a veto threat from President Obama.
The fact that the bill died last year after a veto threat does not mean it will happen again this year.
The only way to stop this intrusion on our right to privacy is to write, email and call your senators urging them to oppose this bill and attempted violation of our right to privacy.
Kaleb Causey is a junior politcal science and journalism major from Jonesboro who serves as sports reporter for The Tech Talk. Email comments to ktc...@latech.edu.