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Should We Be Afraid of CISPA?
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There appears to be controversy regarding a federal bill making its way through Congress—and the experts disagree—so here is a "non-geek” translation of what is going on so you can determine for yourself: Should we fear CISPA?

CISPA stands for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, and it is a bipartisan bill that allows federal agencies and private companies to share customer information as it relates to "cyber security” threats—as a means of combating hacking attacks. Some geeks are referring to CISPA as a repackaged SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).

Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith introduced SOPA to protect intellectual copyrights. SOPA was highly criticized by the tech industry for its infringement on free speech and innovation, and several popular websites were "blacked out” last January to protest the bill.

As they did with SOPA, civil liberties groups are arguing that CISPA’s definitions are too broad and that the referenced "information sharing” amounts to "cyber spying” on innocent cyber users. Concerns are that the bill offers companies broad immunity from privacy laws that prohibit the sharing of information, as long as the companies claim to be acting in the name of cyber security. While SOPA was vocally opposed by Internet companies like Tumblr and Google, the tech industry generally supports CISPA because the industry hates hackers. Facebook offered a letter in support of the bill because defending its users from hackers costs millions and CISPA transfers to the government some of the burden of keeping track of more mischievous users.

Proponents of the bill see it as a way to protect Americans from international hackers. Last year, Chinese hackers compromised U.S. oil companies’ computer systems, and in 2009, the Pentagon was hacked and information was compromised regarding plans for the newest fighter jet. CISPA is designed to prevent attacks like these.

The New York Times reported: The easiest way to understand the debate over CISPA is to think of hackers as the "new terrorists.” Recall the debate over the Patriot Act and just replace the word "terrorism” with "cyber attacks” and "al Qaeda” with "anonymous.” Many commentators have made apt comparisons between CISPA and the Patriot Act’s own controversial information sharing provision. The hysteria is built on a fear of a "cyber Pearl Harbor,” where cyber attackers blow up a nuclear station or other sensitive target by using computers.

In summary, the best case scenario for CISPA is that it won’t affect anyone except for hackers making cyber threats against America. In the worst case scenario, CISPA will bring us closer to an all-knowing surveillance state where the government has instant access to everything you or your company has ever done on a computer.

Rest assured, the FMWA will be watching every turn of events and will keep you informed of any changes in laws or regulations that might affect the way you do business. Even if CISPA turns out to be the worst case scenario, you will be informed and ready to act.

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