Internet Defense League Seeks to Delay CISPA Until Election

The Internet Defense League may have found themselves trying to run down the clock on CISPA. CISPA is considered to be one of the larger threats to the Internet according to its opponents. The “cybersecurity” legislation was scheduled to be voted on by now, but a delay has been seen as a beacon of light because the general elections are approaching.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

We covered the Internet Defense League when it first started up. While some considered it to be overkill, we thought it was an admirable effort to get something started to help fight pieces of legislation that could be considered real threats to the Internet. CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is one of the bills that has caught the League’s attention.

Privacy is Awesome, one of the sites against CISPA, says that the following is what’s wrong with the bill:

– Reverses privacy laws. Specifically, we are opposed to the “Information Sharing” provisions in the bills, which through a giant “notwithstanding” clause would nullify decades of consumer privacy laws and establish legal immunity for companies to share personal information of virtually all internet users with the federal government.

– Wholesale data sharing. Legal immunity can be used to pressure companies into a program of wholesale user-data sharing with the government. If they were willing to do it when it was illegal (i.e. Bush Admin. warrantless wiretapping program), they’ll certainly do it with preemptive legal immunity.

– Removes protections for non-suspects. The bills claims to establish “affirmative authority to monitor and defend against cybersecurity threats.” However, sharing cybersecurity threat information is already perfectly legal, provided that the parties involved follow basic, well-established legal guidelines for protecting the privacy of non-suspects. The bills remove those protections when there is a “reasonable belief” that information is indicative of a broadly-defined cybersecurity threat. That language is far too expansive for such a drastic civil liberties loophole.

– No limits on inter-agency sharing. Under S.2105, personal information would be shared with the Department of Homeland Security, but the bill does not prevent DHS from sharing the information with other government and military agencies, like the National Security Agency. There are no limitations as to what purposes the information can be used for.

– Violates net neutrality. Sec. 701 of S.2105 violates net neutrality principles by giving ISPs new authority to block traffic in order to protect against actions that might result in a breach of any information system.

ZDNet is noting that the bills delay has caused CISPA opponents to get involved and stop the bill from becoming law:

Insiders expected the Senate to vote on the much-contested cyberspying bill CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (PDF)) when it convened from Memorial Day recess.

But now the week is over – and still no CISPA vote.

On Tuesday The Hill reported that the bill had indeed stalled and that its supporters (desperate to pass cybersecurity legislation) were vocally upset that its time was fast running out.


The Internet Defense League has just sent the below statement to its supporters and CISPA opponents with intent to raise a call to action in light of CISPA’s new and ongoing delays:

CISPA’s supporters are in a race against time: in just 7 weeks Congress will shut down, election season kicks in, and the clock runs out for CISPA. Even better, the fact that Congress postponed the vote means they probably don’t have enough “yes” votes yet.

Remember: these bills would end online privacy, treating everyone like criminals instead of making us more secure.

We set out to make eliminating online privacy a messy proposition for the Senate. And it’s working.

If we can keep the calls, emails, meetings, and creative campaigns coming, we can tip the scales.

It will be interesting to see if CISPA can be delayed all the way past the upcoming elections. I suppose the cynical perspective would say that it’s not unheard of that a bill like this is often a candidate for quick passage at the last few moments before the government heads off to an election. A more optimistic way of looking at this is to say that numerous bills die off when election season hits. How many strict copyright bills have died off because of elections before anyway? Personally, I think it’s too early to say whether this bill will or will not become law.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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