While SOPA was met with outrage, sparking many major websites to shut down for 24 hours in protest, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the new major internet legislation, has gone to vote with little to no protest. Yet it passed the House of Representatives, just three legislative stops away from passing into law.
And the bill is moving fast. Next step it moves to the Senate. President Obama has already threatened to veto the bill, despite what the Senate votes.
So what is CISPA? In short, it’s the invasion of your online privacy. Much in the way that Homeland Security is granted the right to access each and every individual’s record of library loans, CISPA will allow the government access to all your internet activities, supplied by the sites themselves working in co-operation with the government. This includes private messages, emails, search history, etc. If you do anything on the internet, the government will know about it.
Some major companies that support CISPA include Microsoft (although they are beginning to distance themselves from the bill since public outcry has increased since the bill passed the House), AT&T, Verizon, Facebook, and US Telecom – The Broadband Association. In short, billion-dollar companies that hold a great deal of private information about United States citizens.
The glaring problem with CISPA is that while the law states that this is done in the name of cyber-security, and while some private citizens may feel all right with losing freedom in exchange for said perceived security, the law is written in such a way that government agencies will be able to look up what you are doing online at any time, without grounds for doing so, and without having to inform you. This can be likened to walking into your home and rifling through your possessions without telling you, on a whim, without answering to anyone.
Criminal lawyers are closely watching this issue, as it has potentially major implications for criminal law. Currently, a warrant would be required to collect this kind of information, but with CISPA, that would no longer be the case. Could information acquired through CISPA, and without a warrant, be used in court? What would happen if this information allowed the government to learn that a crime was planned? Would they be able to prosecute the would-be criminals based on this information? If CISPA is passed, it may make it even more important to hire a criminal lawyer as soon as a person is accused of a crime.
(Articles on this blog are provided for informational purposes only. Use of this blog does not provide or replace individualized legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please speak with one of our attorneys, who can offer legal advice specific to your circumstances.)
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