CISPA: The Keyboard Cops

The clampdown on Internet freedom comes in the guise of a new bill that should give online entrepreneurs nightmares, says  Naomi Wolf, a social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

Naomi Wolf

Almost no one had read the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) before it was rushed through the United States House of Representatives in late April and sent to the Senate. CISPA is the successor to SOPA, the “anti-piracy” bill that was recently defeated after an outcry from citizens and Internet companies. SOPA, framed by its proponents in terms of protecting America’s entertainment industry from theft, would have shackled content providers and users, and spawned copycat legislation around the world, from Canada and the United Kingdom to Israel and Australia.

Now, with CISPA, the clampdown on Internet freedom comes in the guise of a bill aimed at cyber terrorism that should give Internet entrepreneurs – and all business leaders – nightmares. And yet, this time, major Internet and technology companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, supported the bill, on the grounds that it would create a clear procedure for handling government requests for information. Microsoft, at least, belatedly dropped its support after recognising that the law would allow the US government to force any Internet business to hand over information about its users’ online activities.

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