Internet privacy in danger

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act will obstruct Internet rights.

Ronald Dixon


Last week, the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act with mixed support from both Democrats and Republicans. This piece of legislation should not be passed into law.

What the bill essentially does is grant the government the capacity to share private information that pertains to Internet security with companies. The rules are so broad, however, that they open the floodgates for abuse.

For example, private companies can obtain far more information than they really need. Due to the broad wording of the bill, the data can include personally identifiable information, which is online information that identifies an Internet user, such as banking or social media accounts. Moreover, through the transfer of this data, the companies are not restricted in how they use the information; if they use the information in a questionable manner, the bill would protect them from any criminal liability.

Also, the requests that the companies can make would not require subpoenas or warrants. This means that the right to privacy, an implied right that stems from the Fourth Amendment, would be infringed. The bill, if passed into law, would be unconstitutional.

Finally, given the fact that the companies would be shielded from any lawsuit that would stem from the apprehension of the data, they could use the information in any way that they choose. If they want to sell the data to advertisement agencies, for example, nothing would stop them from squeezing money from our personal information. Also, if a hacker steals the data from the company, the companies would not be legally responsible for having an inadequate security mechanism.

Several politicians believe that CISPA is a better alternative to the controversial Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect IP Act bills that died in Congress, but that is far from the truth. As groups from both sides of the political spectrum, from the American Civil Liberties Union to FreedomWorks as well as President Barack Obama, oppose the bill, we find that the idea of protecting basic Internet privacy rights should be near the forefront of legislative priorities. CISPA, however, runs contrary to the rights of privacy.