House lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that civil liberties groups say would destroy the right to Internet privacy as we know it. An earlier version of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA pdf, passed the House back in April 2012; it died quickly under threat of presidential veto and widespread protest from Internet activists. But this week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers R-Michigan and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger D-Maryland brought it back. Whats going on?
Ruppersberger argues that CISPA is necessary to fight a cyber-security threat that has expanded since last spring – alluding to recent Chinese hacking attacks on newspapers including The New York Times and Washington Post. “People ask me all the time, What keeps you up at night? And I say, Spicy Mexican food, weapons of mass destruction and cyber attacks,” Ruppersberger tells Rolling Stone. “We have a serious problem. Were trying to fix this problem.”
But opponents from the American Civil Liberties Union ACLU to the Electronic Freedom Foundation EFF say that in practice, CISPA would give private companies and U.S. intelligence agencies the power to pass around Americans personal data with complete impunity – all in the name of “national security.” “In one fell swoop, privacy laws no longer apply,” Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel for the ACLU, tells Rolling Stone.