CISPA, for those who don’t remember, is essentially a blank check for the federal government to have private corporations fork over everything they know about you, at any time, without a warrant. It died in the Senate because it was a terrible idea that Obama was against.
Now it might be back. And we don’t know if it’s the crappy law, or one that might actually make sense.
How? Did it somehow magically get passed by both the House and Senate? Nope, grindlock continues to grind on, unabated. No, what happened was, a lot of high profile hacking of American companies has come to light, and Congress would like to do something fast:
“American industry is under attack, costing our country and our economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs,” said Ruppersberger. “We need to do everything we can to enable American companies to defend themselves against these devastating cyber attacks. Our bill does just that by permitting the voluntary sharing of critical threat intelligence while preserving important civil liberties.”
Putting some impetus behind the bill are high profile breaches in security. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, for example, were hacked by Chinese nationals, although the extent of government involvement is unclear.
It’s worth noting that the main issue with CISPA can be removed by excising a brief bit of language that allows CISPA to supersede other laws. It’s also worth noting that there’s not a law on the books, right now, that stops government agencies from buying marketing databases, and they do it all the time. CISPA would simply expand the scope of that, and potentially make it possible for the government to track citizens as well as extranational computer criminals with no warrant.
Of course, certain parts of it might be law as soon as tonight or tomorrow: Obama is widely expected to issue an executive order creating voluntary cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure.
What does this mean for us? Good question. But apparently one way or the other, we’re going to find out.