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What Does CISPA Mean for Defense Attorneys?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last year, you may have gone an entire day without Wikipedia thanks to the SOPA blackout. In January 2012, thousands of websites went dark for a day to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

And it worked. The bills died. It's like the old saying: Give a man a bill summary, and he'll promptly ignore it. Stand between a man and his access to crowd-sourced reference materials, and he'll make a call to Congress.

But SOPA and PIPA were so last year. This current threat to the Internet is CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. And it could be bad news for your clients.

Officially, the bill provides “for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities.” Unofficially, opponents say that it gives companies an incentive to hand over user information to the government, reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) offers this description of the bill:

CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

CISPA would give the government an easy path to collecting evidence, all in the name of cybersecurity. Gregory T. Nojeim, Director of the Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at the Center for Democracy & Technology explained to Think Progress:

This risks turning the cybersecurity program into a back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability.

The good news here is that the White House has indicated that President Obama may veto CISPA if passed in its current form, according to PC Magazine.

If you specialize in cybercrimes, you’ll want to keep an eye on CISPA. Even an amended version of the bill could give the government an easier way to gather evidence against your clients.

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