One of the biggest threats to both businesses and governments in today’s world are cyber attacks not only by lone attackers but also by state sponsored attacks especially from China. The CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is a bill being proposed in Congress to help fight such attacks. The Act allows businesses and federal agency to share information about cyber threats they have received. The bill would allow them to share this information between each other without informing the public or in the case of businesses their stockholders. The Director of Nationals Intelligence would be in charge of setting up how the information would be shared. All participating companies would have to pass a security clearance and the information would be shared on a need to know basis. The information that is shared cannot be used to gain an advantage. Cyber threats are defined in the bill as any “effort to degrade, disrupt or destroy vital networks or ” to threat or misappropriation“ of information owned by the government or private business” such as intellectual property
Although everyone agrees that cyber attacks are a major problem in today’s world the opponents of this bill including the EFF believe this bill’s definition of cyber attacks is too broad. They are especially concerned that the bill could be used to dampen free speech and to go after sites such as Wikileaks or NY Times under the misappropriation of information owned by the government or private businesses part of the act. Opponents of the bill also think that the Director of National Intelligence is the wrong person to head the effort, that it should be under a civilian agency.
Although there is some comparison between this act and SOPA, there is also a key difference. While SOPA was opposed by major tech companies, many companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Intel have already sent a letter supporting CISPA. Under this bill they would be protected from being sued when they share our information with the government if under good faith they share the information under the CISPA. That means the passage of the bill is to their advantage. Also unlike SOPA, CISPA opponents don’t have any bogeyman like the MPAA to attack. In other words unlike SOPA the money is behind the passage of this bill instead of against it. Hopefully between now and passage, the definitions can be made more narrow. There needs to a balance between the fight against cyber attacks and individual rights.