First off, what the heck is CISPA? Commonly sounded out as "sea spa" it's NOT where lobsters go to get their nails trimmed. Nor are we referring to the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants. No, we're talking about possible U.S. domestic cyber-policy. To be fair, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was constructed and written with good intentions: to protect the US government and private businesses from “cyber threats.” To do this, these organizations want to be able to access and share specific information on private citizens as a method of investigating cyber criminals intent on compromising confidential or private organizational information.
Is organizational data at serious risk from these criminal individuals and private organizations (both at home and abroad)? Absolutely. Is CISPA the answer? No, and here’s why...
One problem with CISPA is the broad, sweeping language used to define a cyber threat and what actually constitutes a cyber threat. This is where free Internet advocates take issue. Even when created with the best intentions, broad language blurs the line between security and civil liberty infringement. This is the United States; the ability to challenge your government is an immutable ideal.
The other problem is that CISPA will allow both the government and private organizations to share your personal information with each other completely anonymously (meaning they don’t have to inform you they’re accessing or trading your information) and without legal recourse (meaning if your information is misused or you are somehow misrepresented, you can’t do anything about it). Not ok.
CISPA is like trying to hit a nail with a two-ton rock, instead of precisely with a hammer. Legislation can be written that doesn’t infringe on our 4th Amendment rights. The EU is already leading the way with these types of directives.
The good news: After passing through the House, CISPA failed to become law when the Senate voted against it. This time around, however, the Senate refused to vote and is in the process of drafting competing legislation. Hopefully, the Senate will offer a solution that caters to both sides of this important issue—and soon.